Oropharyngeal dysphagia is not a single disease but a symptom complex that is recognized by difficulty in transfer of a food bolus from mouth to esophagus or by signs and symptoms of aspiration pneumonia or nasal regurgitation. Its etiologies are legion, with the most common result of underlying neuromuscular disease, including cerebrovascular accidents, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, and muscular dystrophy. There are two methods of treatment for oropharyngeal dysphagia; one is specific and directed at the underlying disease and the other is general (supportive) and designed to preserve oral intake for nutrition while preventing aspiration pneumonia. Following a general discussion of the etiology and clinical presentation of orophyarngeal dysphagia, a description of the methods for supportive care is presented as well as the approach to the treatment of cricopharyngeal dysfunction and Zenker's diverticulum.
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