Font Size
A
A
A
1
...

Dysphagia
(Difficulty Swallowing)

Dysphagia Overview

Dysphagia means difficulty swallowing. Odynophagia means painful swallowing. Sometimes it is not easy for individuals to distinguish between these two problems. For example, food that sticks in the esophagus (swallowing tube) can be painful. Is this dysphagia or odynophagia or both? Technically it is dysphagia, but individuals may describe it as painful swallowing (odynophagia). Nevertheless, it is important to attempt to distinguish between the two because the causes of each may be quite different. When dysphagia is mild it may cause an individual only to stop eating for a minute or less and drink a few sips of water, but when it is severe it can prevent an individual from eating and taking in enough calories for adequate nutrition, and to maintain their weight.

Some conditions associated with dysphagia affect the area of the lower throat, primarily conditions in which there are abnormalities of nerves or muscles that control the function of the throat. This area also is the area from which the trachea, the main airway leading to the lungs, begins. As a result, abnormalities with the function of the nerves and muscles of this area can lead to discoordination and, in passing food may be more easily aspirated into the lungs, potentially leading to bacterial infection and a form of pneumonia known as aspiration pneumonia. The same complication in the lungs can occur when food sticks in the esophagus further down and remains there until a person sleeps. At night, food can regurgitate from the esophagus and into the throat, and then the lungs, because in the lying position gravity does not prevent the food from coming up, and swallowing, which can keep food in the esophagus.

Must Read Articles Related to Dysphagia (Swallowing Problems)

Acid Reflux (GERD)
Acid Reflux Disease (GERD) Acid reflux (GERD) is caused by acid backing up from the stomach. Causes of acid reflux include smoking, obesity, alcohol, medications, diet, and other medical ...learn more >>
Alzheimer's Disease Symptoms
Alzheimer's Disease Stages: Symptoms and Signs Alzheimer's disease is one of the many causes of dementia. Symptoms of Alzheimer's disease typically progress over a period of years. There are warning signs of...learn more >>
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS, Lou Gehrig's Disease)
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive disorder of the part of the nervous system that controls voluntary movements. It is sometimes called Lou Ge...learn more >>





Medical Dictionary