Post-extubation dysphagia and pain


Q: My boyfriend just had shoulder replacement surgery during which he was intubated for a short time (less than 3 hours). For the 5 days since his surgery he has experienced a sore throat and dysphagia severe enough that he chokes on and coughs back up solid food, and has difficulty and extreme discomfort swallowing even liquids or soft foods. Occasionally he is able to swallow something solid but doesn't seem to be consistently improving; oftentimes the next time he attempts to eat he is again unable to swallow. How long can post-extubation dysphagia be expected to last (i.e. how long is too long and is cause for concern) and during that time are there any remedies to relieve this condition? Thanks for the information!


A:   It seems your boyfriend has developed a pharyngitis from the use of the endotracheal tube during his surgical procedure. This is simply inflammation of the upper airway. With this inflammation there is also swelling. this explains his sore throat and difficulty swallowing. Pharyngitis usually resolves on its own, without the need for any medical intervention. your boyfriends symptoms should not last longer than 7-10 days. If his symptoms persist beyond this time period it would suggest another cause for his symptoms and not a simple pharyngitis. In the interim, the use of over-the-counter throat lozenges will help to alleviate any pain he may be experiencing.

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