Swallowing Disorders (Dysphagia)

Dysphagia means you have difficulty or discomfort when you swallow liquids, food, or saliva. This produces an uncomfortable sensation that food is stuck in the esophagus, throat, or the chest. This is a problem of the mouth/tongue or of the esophagus, the tube that carries food from your mouth to your stomach. Odynophagia refers to pain with swallowing.

Swallowing problems can occur in people of all ages but is more common in older adults. There are many different reasons for dysphagia including structural problems like a stricture or web versus motility disorders which are problems with the muscle coordination of the esophagus.

Eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE) is an allergic inflammatory disorder of the esophagus that commonly causes dysphagia and food impactions. People with certain food or environmental allergies, asthma, or eczema may be at a higher risk of developing eosinophilic esophagitis. This chronic condition is becoming more common, especially among young men, and requires ongoing treatment to manage symptoms.

An esophageal stricture refers to a narrowing of the esophagus. If the lining of the esophagus is damaged over time, inflammation can develop which leads to the formation of scar tissue. Symptoms include difficulty swallowing, regurgitation of food and weight loss. One of the most common causes is repeated exposure to stomach acid as a result of GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease). Other causes include ingesting harsh chemicals, viral or bacterial infections, and injuries.