Are you having
difficulty swallowing but no pain when swallowing?Dysphagia is difficulty in moving
food or liquid from mouth to the stomach. Dysphagia may be associated with pain while
swallowing, or not being able to swallow at all.
Occasional difficulty in swallowing usually isn't
cause for concern, and may simply occur when you eat
too fast or don't chew your food well enough. But
persistent swallowing problems may indicate a
serious medical problem requiring treatment.
Dysphagia can occur at any age, but is most
common in older adults. The causes of dysphagia
vary, and treatments depend upon the cause. In many
cases, dysphagia can be partially or completely
Signs and symptoms
symptoms sometimes associated with dysphagia may include:
Not being able
to swallow at all
coughing while eating
food getting stuck in your throat or chest, or behind your
pain in your chest
back up (regurgitation)
stomach acid backing up into your throat
in your throat
infants and children, signs and symptoms of dysphagia may include:
of attention during feeding or meals
Tensing of the
body during feeding
eat foods of different textures
feeding or eating times (30 minutes or longer)
Food or liquid
leaking from the mouth
gagging during feeding or meals
Spitting up or
vomiting during feeding or meals
coordinate breathing with eating and drinking
gain or growth
swallow, your tongue pushes food to the back of your throat. Muscle
contractions quickly move food through your pharynx, the area that
extends from the back of your throat to the top of your esophagus. Next,
the food moves past your windpipe (trachea) and into your esophagus, the
tube that connects your throat to your stomach.
bands of muscles (sphincters) at the top and bottom of your esophagus
open every time you swallow to let food pass, then quickly close. The
lower sphincter allows food to enter your stomach and keeps stomach acid
from coming up into your esophagus. Muscles in the wall of your
esophagus help push food toward your stomach in a coordinated process
occurs when there's a problem with any part of the swallowing process.
of conditions can interfere with swallowing, and they generally fall
into one of several main categories:
This is the most common type of dysphagia, and refers to the sensation
of food sticking or getting hung up in the base of your throat or chest.
Common causes of esophageal dysphagia include:
This occurs when your lower esophageal muscle (sphincter) doesn't
relax properly to let food enter your stomach. Muscles in the wall
of your esophagus are often weak as well. This can cause
regurgitation of food not yet mixed with stomach contents, sometimes
causing a sweet taste in your mouth.
With age, your esophagus tends to lose some of the muscle strength
and coordination needed to push food into your stomach.
This condition produces multiple, high-pressure, poorly coordinated
contractions of your esophagus usually after you swallow. Diffuse
spasm is a rare disorder that affects the smooth (involuntary)
muscles in the walls of your lower esophagus. The contractions often
occur intermittently, becoming more severe over a period of years.
Narrowing of your esophagus (stricture) causes large chunks of food
to get caught. Narrowing may result from the formation of scar
tissue, often caused by gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), or
Difficulty swallowing tends to get progressively worse over several
months when esophageal tumors are present.
Sometimes, food, such as a large piece of meat or bone, or another
object can become lodged in your throat or esophagus. Older adults
with dentures and people who have difficulty chewing their food
properly are at risk of obstruction of the throat or esophagus.
Children are prone to swallowing pins, coins, pieces of toys, or
other small objects that can become stuck. If an obstruction causes
an inability to swallow or interferes with breathing, call for
emergency help or go to the nearest emergency department
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
Damage to esophageal tissues from stomach acid backing up
(refluxing) into your esophagus can lead to scarring and narrowing
of your lower esophagus, making swallowing difficult. Long-term
can sometimes lead to Barrett's esophagus, a condition in which the
color and composition of the cells lining your lower esophagus
change because of repeated exposure to stomach acid. Having
Barrett's esophagus increases your risk of esophageal cancer.
A small pouch forms and collects food particles in your throat,
often just above your esophagus, leading to difficulty swallowing,
gurgling sounds, bad breath and repeated throat-clearing or
coughing. This disorder is more common as you age.
This disease is characterized by an overgrowth of scar-like tissue,
causing stiffening and hardening of tissues. It can weaken your
lower esophageal sphincter, allowing acid to reflux into your
esophagus and causing symptoms and complications similar to those of