Dysphagia (Swallowing Disorder)

Occasional difficulty 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 difficulty swallowing may indicate a serious medical condition requiring treatment.  Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia) may mean it takes more time and effort to move food or liquid from your mouth to your stomach. Difficulty swallowing may also be associated with pain. In some cases, you may not be able to swallow.  Difficulty swallowing can occur at any age, but is most common in older adults. The causes of swallowing difficulties vary, and treatment depends upon the cause.

Signs and symptoms sometimes associated with dysphagia may include:

  • Pain while swallowing (odynophagia)
  • Not being able to swallow
  • Choking or coughing while eating
  • Sensation of food getting stuck in your throat or chest, or behind your breastbone (sternum)
  • Bringing food back up (regurgitation)
  • Frequent heartburn
  • Food or stomach acid backing up into your throat
  • Unexpected weight loss
  • Recurrent pneumonia
  • Coughing or gagging when swallowing

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