What Is Dysphagia (Difficulty Swallowing)?

Problem swallowing is known as dysphagia. It implies that transferring meals or liquid out of your mouth to your abdomen takes extra effort and time.

Whereas very important processes like respiratory usually are not normally affected, this situation could nonetheless trigger an excessive amount of concern and anxiousness.

Dysphagia could happen at any age, however it’s extra frequent in older adults.

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Indicators related to dysphagia could embody:

  • Drooling
  • Gagging, choking, or coughing whenever you swallow
  • Taking a number of tries to get meals or liquids down
  • Regurgitation of meals and liquids
  • A sensation like meals or liquids are caught in your throat or chest
  • Hoarseness
  • Ache when swallowing
  • Ache or strain in your chest
  • Frequent heartburn
  • Weight reduction


Swallowing is a mechanism carried out by the contractions or squeezing actions of the muscle tissues in your throat and esophagus.

Problem swallowing could also be brought on by two predominant varieties of issues:

Muscle and Nerve Issues

Dysphagia can come up from irregular functioning within the muscle tissues and nerves that transfer meals by way of the throat and esophagus. This drawback could also be brought on by:

  • A stroke
  • A mind or spinal twine damage
  • Achalasia, the place your decrease esophageal muscle doesn’t loosen up correctly to permit the entry of meals to your abdomen
  • Sure neurological situations, like a number of sclerosis, Parkinson’s illness, or muscular dystrophy
  • Esophageal spasm, the place the muscle tissues of the esophagus abruptly squeeze
  • Scleroderma, the place the tissues of the esophagus turn out to be laborious and slim. Scleroderma may also weaken the decrease esophageal muscle, inflicting meals and abdomen acid again up into your throat and mouth


Blockage in your throat or esophagus could also be brought on by situations like:

  • Gastroesophageal reflux illness (GERD)
  • Irritation of the esophagus, normally brought on by GERD, an an infection, or an allergic response
  • Esophageal stricture (narrowed esophagus) brought on by tumors or scar tissue from GERD
  • Diverticula or tiny sacs within the partitions of the throat or esophagus
  • Lymph nodes, tumors, and different kinds of lots outdoors the esophagus that press on it
  • Overseas our bodies

Threat Components

Dysphagia shouldn’t be actually thought-about a typical signal of getting old. Nevertheless, older adults are at larger danger because of the pure put on and tear of the esophagus. Additionally they have a better danger of sure situations which will give rise to dysphagia.

Folks with sure nervous system problems, like Parkinson’s illness or a number of sclerosis, usually tend to expertise dysphagia.  


To pinpoint the reason for your dysphagia, your physician could ask you to bear a number of checks, resembling:

X-rays of your neck and chest

X-rays present an image of the affected areas that may assist your physician see modifications within the form of the neck and chest and assess muscular exercise. Earlier than the X-ray, you’ll be required to drink a barium resolution or tablet. The barium strains the within of your esophagus in order that it seems extra clearly on the X-ray. Go to this web site for extra data.

A barium swallowing check

This check supplies a picture of your swallowing exercise as you swallow barium-coated meals of various consistencies. It could present issues within the coordination of your mouth and throat muscle tissues when swallowing.


Your physician makes use of a mirror or a fiber-optic scope to examine the again of your throat.


A skinny, versatile, lighted instrument known as a scope is handed by way of your mouth and all the way down to your throat, esophagus, and typically the abdomen and higher intestines. The scope allows the physician to see any abnormalities which will trigger your dysphagia.

Generally the physician would possibly take out a small piece of tissue for a biopsy check to test for irritation or most cancers.

Esophageal muscle check (manometry)

A small tube related to a pc is positioned down your esophagus. It measures the strain in your esophagus as you swallow.

Imaging scans like CT or MRI scans

Scans create cross-sectional pictures of your bones and smooth tissues.


Dysphagia can result in the next issues:

Malnutrition, dehydration, and weight reduction – The consumption of enough nourishment and fluids is affected whenever you discover it laborious to swallow.
Aspiration pneumonia – Meals and liquid could enter the airway, introduce micro organism to the lungs, and result in an infection.
Choking – Meals will get caught within the throat, and if nobody is round to intervene, this will result in loss of life.

When to Go to a Physician

Occasional dysphagia is normally not a trigger for concern. Nevertheless, persistent problem swallowing, weight reduction, vomiting, or regurgitation name for a go to to the physician.

An obstruction that interferes with respiratory requires rapid consideration. In case you expertise this, go to the closest emergency division straight away.


Problem swallowing can’t be prevented. Nevertheless, you may scale back your danger or handle the situation by chopping meals into small items, consuming extra slowly, and chewing nicely.


The therapy for dysphagia will depend on the trigger. Your physician could suggest the next:

  • Altering the meals you eat to sorts which can be simpler to swallow
  • Dilation of the esophagus with a tool that expands slim areas
  • Drugs that handle points associated to GERD, heartburn, or irritation
  • Elimination of a blockage by way of endoscopy
  • Workout routines to coach your swallowing muscle tissues to work collectively
  • Surgical procedure to repair achalasia or to take away bigger blockages, like a tumor or diverticula

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