September 19, 2019
There are many causes of swallowing problems: they are not generally serious and resolve easily.
However, if you have significant problems swallowing for more than 3 weeks you need to see an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist. Worrying symptoms are food sticking in the throat, a persistent sore throat, persistent pain on one side of the throat, a change in voice and/or ear ache. This is especially concerning if you are a smoker and/or drink significantly. An endoscopy (a flexible light cable used to look into your throat and gullet) is needed to find out the cause of your problem.
Stopping smoking has beneficial short- and long-term positive effects on health. Stopping smoking will reduce chances of a stroke, mouth and throat cancer, heart attacks, lung disease (such as bronchitis and lung cancer), stomach ulcers and bad circulation.
In particular, within three months of quitting smoking your circulation, breathing, stamina and energy improves. One year after quitting your added risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a smoker’s. Five years after quitting stroke risk is reduced to that of a nonsmoker’s and ten years after quitting your lung cancer rate is about half that of a smoker’s. Risk of cancers of the mouth, throat, gullet, bladder, kidney, and pancreas decreases and fifteen years after quitting the risk of coronary heart disease and lung cancer is back to that of someone who has never smoked.
In addition, it is always a good idea to reduce alcohol intake to safe levels (21 units for a man and 14 units for a woman) and especially so if you smoke. This is because alcohol allows the cancer-causing chemicals in cigarette smoke to dissolve more easily into the linings of the mouth and throat. The combination of heavy smoking and drinking increases the chances of mouth cancer by 35 times.