Difficulty with swallowing is the feeling that food or liquid is stuck in the throat or at any point before the food enters the stomach. This problem is also called dysphagia.
Dysphagia; Impaired swallowing; Choking - food; Globus sensation
The process of swallowing involves several steps. These include:
There are many nerves that help the muscles of the mouth, throat, and esophagus work together. Much of swallowing occurs without you being aware of what you are doing.
Swallowing is a complex act. Many nerves work in a fine balance to control how the muscles of the mouth, throat, and esophagus work together.
A brain or nerve disorder can alter this fine balance in the muscles of the mouth and throat.
Stress or anxiety may cause some people to feel tightness in the throat or feel as if something is stuck in the throat. This sensation is called globus sensation and is unrelated to eating. However, there may be some underlying cause.
Problems that involve the esophagus often cause swallowing problems. These may include:
Chest pain, the feeling of food stuck in the throat, or heaviness or pressure in the neck or upper or lower chest may be present.
Other symptoms may include:
You may have problems swallowing with any eating or drinking, or only with certain types of foods or liquids. Early signs of swallowing problems may include difficulty when eating:
The treatment for your swallowing problem depends on the cause.
It is important to learn how to eat and drink safely. Incorrect swallowing may lead to choking or breathing food or liquid into your main airway. This can lead to pneumonia.
To manage swallowing problems at home:
Medicines that may be used depend on the cause, and may include:
Procedures and surgeries that may be used include:
You may need a feeding tube if:
A feeding tube is inserted directly into the stomach through the abdominal wall (G-tube).
Dustin Carlson is a Gastroenterologist in Chicago, Illinois. Dr. Carlson has been practicing medicine for over 13 years and is rated as an Elite doctor by MediFind in the treatment of Swallowing Difficulty. He is also highly rated in 12 other conditions, according to our data. His top areas of expertise are Achalasia, Swallowing Difficulty, Esophagitis, and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease. He is licensed to treat patients in Illinois. Dr. Carlson is currently accepting new patients.
John Pandolfino is a Gastroenterologist in Chicago, Illinois. Dr. Pandolfino has been practicing medicine for over 29 years and is rated as an Elite doctor by MediFind in the treatment of Swallowing Difficulty. He is also highly rated in 14 other conditions, according to our data. His top areas of expertise are Achalasia, Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, Swallowing Difficulty, and Hiatal Hernia. He is licensed to treat patients in Illinois. Dr. Pandolfino is currently accepting new patients.
James Luketich is a Thoracic Surgeon and a General Surgeon in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Dr. Luketich has been practicing medicine for over 36 years and is rated as an Elite doctor by MediFind in the treatment of Swallowing Difficulty. He is also highly rated in 36 other conditions, according to our data. His top areas of expertise are Hiatal Hernia, Swallowing Difficulty, Hernia, and Esophageal Cancer. He is licensed to treat patients in Pennsylvania. Dr. Luketich is currently accepting new patients.
Call your provider if swallowing problems do not improve after a few days, or they come and go.
Call your provider right away if:
Published Date: July 01, 2021
Published By: Michael M. Phillips, MD, Emeritus Professor of Medicine, The George Washington University School of Medicine, Washington, DC. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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