What is dysphagia?

Dysphagia is difficulty swallowing. Some people may be unable to swallow or may have trouble safely swallowing liquids, foods, or saliva.

What are some possible causes?
  • The muscles and nerves that help food move through the throat do not work. Possibly caused from stroke, head injury, or multiple sclerosis.
  • Something is blocking the throat or esophagus like scar tissue or inflammation. Possibly caused from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and esophagitis.
What are some symptoms?
  • Gag, choke, or cough when you swallow
  • Food or liquids come back up through the throat, mouth, or nose
  • Feel like food is stuck in the throat or chest
  • Have pain when you swallow
  • Chest pain
What to do?
  • Follow the modified food consistency recommended by the speech-language pathologist
  • May need nutritional supplements
  • Consult a doctor or dietitian before making big changes
  1. Difficulty Swallowing (Dysphagia). Difficulty Swallowing (Dysphagia) | Michigan Medicine. https://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/tp23477spec. Accessed January 24, 2021.
  2. Dysphagia. National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/dysphagia. Published December 14, 2020. Accessed January 20, 2021.
  3. Overview Dysphagia (swallowing problems). NHS Choices. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/swallowing-problems-dysphagia/. Updated January 19, 2018. Accessed January 20, 2021.