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"For how many years does scar tissue affect you?"
I had radiation treatment on my throat 4 yrs ago. I am currently experiencing restriction when swallowing and discomfort. Also have been disoriented at times. Can this be a result of scar tissue?
Thanks for your question. I recommend that you speak with your doctor about your concerns. While many patients think of radiation as a benign and painless treatment for a difficult problem, radiation to the head and neck can have a number of long and short term effects. Some of the most common include dysphagia, or difficulty swallowing. This is because of several different factors that add in. First, swallowing is quite complex, involving multiple muscle groups that must be perfectly coordinated. After radiation, it is common for the innervation to these groups of muscles to be affected, at least to some degree, and it is also common for the scarring of the radiation to impair the normal muscular activity of these muscles. Second, it is important that the food bolus be moist in order to be swallowed readily, and radiation to the head and neck decreases saliva. This causes most patients to need to carry around a water bottle with them, sometimes for the rest of their life. While radiation is sometimes not as painful up front, many of the effects of radiation do not usually diminish with time, and may even increase. With regards to disorientation, this may or may not be due to your previous treatment. Please speak with your doctor about these questions.
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