Trouble Swallowing? It Can Be Dysphagia

With the holidays in full swing, food is always at the center. For some people, though, eating and swallowing make enjoying this time more difficult. Do you have difficulty swallowing? When eating, do you feel like you are choking? Do you get a strangling sensation in your throat? The medical term for this sensation is “dysphagia.” It can occur in anyone but is the most common among older adults. 

Occasional problems swallowing from eating too quickly or not chewing food thoroughly are usually not a cause for concern, but persistent dysphagia may be a sign of a medical condition that requires treatment from a Gastroenterologist.

Signs and symptoms of dysphagia:

  • Pain while swallowing/unable to swallow
  • The sensation of food getting stuck in the throat or chest
  • Drooling
  • Hoarseness
  • Regurgitation
  • Frequent heartburn
  • Stomach acid burning in throat
  • Unexpected weight loss
  • Having to eat very small bites to avoid choking on food

Causes of dysphagia:

The causes of dysphagia can be related to the narrowing or muscle spasms of the esophagus, weakening of throat muscles, affiliated with neurological damage/disorders, and in some cases cancer. Swallowing is a complex process and various conditions can interfere.

Risk factors of dysphagia:

The only two significant risk factors for experiencing dysphagia are aging (wear and tear on the esophagus) and certain health conditions that qualify as neurological or nervous system disorders.

If you realize you need to see a doctor for dysphagia, in the meantime it will be helpful to chew food more slowly and thoroughly than normal. Eating smaller meals and avoiding eating right before bedtime may also help. Make sure to keep track of symptoms, personal information like major stresses or recent life changes, and to be prepared with questions to ask your doctor at your visit.

For more information, Dr. Rajan explains this condition in the video below, while speaking at the Walnut Cove Senior Center.


Do you experience any of these symptoms? Let us know below.

Dr. Dhyan Rajan, board-certified gastroenterologist at Digestive Health Specialists
By: Dhyan Rajan, MD
Board-certified gastroenterologist at Digestive Health Specialists.
He works at our King and Winston-Salem clinics.
Learn more about him here:


Digestive Health Specialists, PA is here to help if you, or someone you know, would like more information, or if you are experiencing any digestive health symptoms and would like further evaluation. Feel free to give us a call at 336-768-6211 or fill the form below.


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