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.
This may be caused by a brain or nerve disorder, stress or anxiety, or problems that involve the back of the tongue, the throat, and the esophagus (tube leading from the throat to the stomach).
Symptoms of swallowing problems include:
Symptoms may be mild or severe.
Most people with dysphagia should be checked by a health care provider if the symptoms persist or come back. But these general tips may help.
You may need someone to remind you to finish swallowing. It may also help to ask caregivers and family members not to talk to you when you are eating or drinking.
Call your provider if:
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Emmett SD. Otolaryngology in the elderly. In: Flint PW, Francis HW, Haughey BH, et al, eds. Cummings Otolaryngology: Head and Neck Surgery. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 13.
Fager SK, Hakel M, Brady S, et al. Adult neurogenic communication and swallowing disorders. In: Cifu DX, ed. Braddom's Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 3.BACK TO TOP
Review Date: 4/11/2020
Reviewed By: Michael M. Phillips, MD, Clinical 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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