Understanding Dysphagia: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment In Thanc Hospital-Chennai

Table of Contents:

  1. Introduction
  2. Symptoms of Dysphagia
  3. Causes of Dysphagia
  4. Complications of Dysphagia
  5. Diagnosing Swallowing Difficulty
  6. Treatment Options
  7. Tips for Easy Swallowing
  8. Conclusion


Understanding Dysphagia, or difficulty swallowing, can range from mild to severe and is a condition that can affect individuals of all ages. This article explores the symptoms, causes, complications, and treatment options for dysphagia.

Symptoms of Dysphagia

  • Pain while swallowing
  • Inability to swallow
  • Sensation of food getting stuck in the throat
  • Drooling
  • Hoarseness
  • Regurgitation
  • Frequent heartburn
  • Weight loss
  • Coughing or gagging when swallowing

If you experience these symptoms regularly, consult your healthcare provider, especially if accompanied by weight loss or vomiting.

Causes of Dysphagia

Esophageal Dysphagia

  1. GERD (Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease): Stomach acid backing up into the esophagus can lead to scarring and narrowing.
  2. Esophageal Stricture: Narrowing of the esophagus can trap large pieces of food.
  3. Esophageal Tumors: Progressive difficulty swallowing due to tumors narrowing the esophagus.
  4. Foreign Bodies: Objects or food blocking the throat or esophagus.
  5. Radiation Therapy: Can cause inflammation and scarring of the esophagus.
  6. Achalasia: Improper relaxation of the lower esophageal muscle.
  7. Diffuse Spasm: High-pressure, poorly coordinated contractions of the esophagus.

Oropharyngeal Dysphagia

  1. Neurological Disorders: Conditions like multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, and Parkinson’s disease.
  2. Neurological Damage: Sudden damage from stroke, brain, or spinal cord injury affecting swallowing.
  3. Zenker’s Diverticulum: A pouch forming in the throat causing difficulty swallowing.
  4. Cancer: Certain cancers and treatments leading to difficulty swallowing.

Complications of Dysphagia

  • Malnutrition, weight loss, and dehydration
  • Aspiration pneumonia
  • Choking, leading to potential life-threatening situations

Diagnosing Swallowing Difficulty

Various diagnostic tests include:

  • Flexible laryngoscopy
  • Modified barium swallow
  • Video fluoroscopy
  • Fiberoptic endoscopic evaluation of swallowing (FEES)
  • Esophagoduodenoscopy (EGD) or upper endoscopy

Treatment Options

Medical Treatments

  • Surgery for abnormal esophageal growths or scar tissue removal.
  • Medication for acid reflux or ulcers, following a reflux diet.
  • Feeding tube in severe cases or acute difficulty swallowing.

Home Treatments

  • Muscle exercises to strengthen facial muscles.
  • Eating in specific positions for easier swallowing.
  • Food preparation adjustments to avoid choking hazards.
  • Avoiding certain foods, hot or cold, based on individual conditions.

Tips for Easy Swallowing

  • Downsize dish, cup, and utensil size for smaller bites.
  • Emphasize taste and aroma to make food more appealing.
  • Consider texture when preparing food to enhance the eating experience.


Dysphagia is a complex condition with various causes and symptoms. Seeking prompt medical attention, proper diagnosis, and adherence to prescribed treatments can significantly improve the quality of life for individuals experiencing swallowing difficulties. Home treatments and lifestyle adjustments play a crucial role in managing dysphagia, ensuring safe and enjoyable eating

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