Swallowing is an important part of eating and drinking. A complex mechanism, it involves the coordination of both the skeletal and smooth muscles. Additionally, the autonomic nervous system helps to coordinate the different phases—oral, pharyngeal, and esophageal. If the process fails, food can become stuck in the throat, which can lead to choking. Various conditions can lead to dysphagia or difficulty swallowing.
Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder of the nervous system. More specifically, it affects the nerve cells in the brain that produce dopamine—a chemical responsible for relaying messages that plan and coordinate movement. As a result, the condition often leads to motor symptoms such as tremors and rigidity. Over time, an individual may also lose control of the throat muscles, which can cause difficulty swallowing. Unfortunately, there is currently no cure for Parkinson's. However, there are several ways to manage the disease, including medication and surgery.
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