Reflux testing and treatment

Treating dysphagia

Learn how reflux testing can provide your physician a better understanding of your condition.

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Managing dysphagia symptoms

Treatment for dysphagia will vary based on the cause of your swallowing problems. For dysphagia caused by gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), treatment may focus on bringing your GERD symptoms under control while managing your dysphagia symptoms.

Dysphagia can be a frightening condition, making it difficult to stay adequately nourished or hydrated and may also signal a more serious underlying condition, such as Barrett’s esophagus. Other risks associated with dysphagia include choking, aspiration, and pneumonia.1

If you’re having trouble swallowing, see your doctor as soon as possible to discuss treatment options.

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Lifestyle changes

Lifestyle changes are often prescribed for a diagnosis of dysphagia caused by GERD because they can reduce GERD symptoms, and also help make eating and swallowing more comfortable.

Recommended lifestyle changes for dysphagia may include:

  • Eliminating alcohol and nicotine
  • Eating frequent smaller meals instead of three large meals
  • Following a soft food or liquid diet
  • Avoiding sticky foods like jam or peanut butter
  • Cutting foods into smaller pieces

Difficulties with swallowing can interfere with your ability to meet your daily nutritional needs or maintain a healthy weight. Discuss your nutritional needs with your doctor to ensure you stay healthy during treatment for dysphagia.

Treatments for dysphagia

Esophageal dilation: If you have scar tissue buildup from GERD in your esophagus that is causing your difficulties swallowing, your doctor may recommend esophageal dilation. In this procedure, an endoscope with a small balloon attached is inserted into your esophagus. The balloon is inflated to gently stretch your esophagus.

LES tightening procedures: Other endoscopic procedures can be performed to strengthen the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) separating your stomach from your esophagus. Strengthening the LES makes it less likely to allow acids to reflux into your throat. In rare cases, severely damaged parts of the esophagus may be removed.

Surgery: For severe cases of dysphagia that are unresponsive to lifestyle changes, surgery may be necessary. Some surgical procedures used to treat GERD can also improve or eliminate dysphagia symptoms.

You should talk to your doctor to discuss the treatment options that are appropriate for you.

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Information and resources on this site should not be used as a substitute for medical advice from your doctor. Always discuss diagnosis and treatment information including risks with your doctor. Keep in mind that all treatment and outcome results are specific to the individual patient. Results may vary.


Symptoms and causes: Dysphagia. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from Accessed on November 5, 2021.


Durko L, Malecka-Panas E. Lifestyle Modifications and Colorectal Cancer. Curr Colorectal Cancer Rep. 2014; 10(1):45–54.