Thyroid nodules: I can't swallow


I have had thyroid problems and lots of nodules on my thyroid gland for many years. Now that the nodules have been zapped, I have to take thyroid replacement therapy for life. The problem now is that I have trouble swallowing food and liquids, and as a result I am severely underweight. Can you recommend someone who could help me?

Dr Fred Kavalier answers your health question:

Although most of us swallow food and drinks without having to think about it, the physiological process of swallowing is incredibly complicated. Food has to be chewed and moistened in the mouth, before it is propelled backwards. At the back of the throat, the food has to be directed away from the windpipe and into the oesophagus. It then has to be moved downwards, on its way to the stomach and intestine. If the muscles of the mouth and throat act in an unco-ordinated way, or it there is any kind of mechanical obstruction, the swallowing mechanism doesn't work.

I strongly suspect that the treatment you have had for your thyroid nodules has damaged either the nerves or muscles that control swallowing. Your best hope is to see a speech and language therapist who specialises in swallowing. Although most people think speech therapists only help people with speech problems, they are also experts in swallowing. A therapist will be able to analyse where the problem lies and suggest techniques for overcoming it.

Please mail your questions for Dr Fred to health@independent.co.uk. He regrets that he is unable to respond personally to questions.

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