Chronic Pharyngitis: Causes, Symptoms, Effects and Dietary Treatment
Causes and Problems
Dysphagia in this condition is due to degenerative changes at the junction of the pharynx and esophagus, resulting in atrophy (wasting away) of the mucosa. Eventually, this may lead to the formation of a mucosal web in the esophagus and make it difficult for a person to swallow. Large pieces of meat and other solid foods are especially difficult to swallow, and the patient may say that he or she feels the food is sticking behind the sternum (breastbone).
Sign and Symptoms
Chronic pharyngitis is commonest in middle-aged women eating poor diets. In women, it is usually associated with iron deficiency and other signs of nutrient deficiency such as angular stomatitis (a soreness at the corners of the mouth) and glossitis (a sore, shiny tongue). This combination of symptoms has been called Patterson-Kelly or Plummer-Vinson syndrome. In severe cases, the esophageal web and difficulty in swallowing (dysphagia) develop and it is thought that the syndrome is linked with cancer of the esophagus
In men alcohol abuse and cigarette smoking may cause chronic pharyngitis.
In order to correct iron deficiency, iron supplements should be given to patients suffering from chronic pharyngitis.
A dietitian should review the patient's diet and advise on a sensible, nutritious diet. It may also be necessary to suggest changes in the consistency of the diet to enable the patient to swallow the foods. Thus:
- Chop or mincemeat, vegetables, and fruit to make swallowing easier.
- Mixing food with a liquid or sauce may help.
- Sip water or another drink during meals.
- Avoid dry foods.
- Stop smoking and cut out alcohol.
Patients should be seen by their doctors at regular intervals to exclude the possibility of cancer.