What Causes Difficulty In Swallowing?

What Causes Difficulty In Swallowing?

Difficulty in swallowing is actually a symptom of different types of medical conditions. All these conditions can be any brain disorder, nervous system disorder, physical blockage, or muscle disorder in the throat. 

You might be experiencing swallowing difficulty while trying to swallow any pill or hard food. In most cases, food doesn’t cause that many issues, as it gets broken within our mouths. The main problem you experience when it comes to swallowing pills. 

You can not break pills all the time, especially when it is not a tablet or a capsule. Here you can use pill swallowing gels that will make swallowing the whole pill easier. But you also should know why you are having this issue. 

What Causes Difficulty In Swallowing

Swallowing involves many nerves and muscles that make it complex. Any type of condition that damages or weakens those nerves and muscles used for swallowing or leads to narrowing of the oesophagus or the back of the throat usually causes dysphagia. 

Usually, this particular condition falls into the following categories. Now, here is the complete information regarding them. 

Esophageal Dysphagia

It refers to the sensation of food getting caught or sticking in the base of your throat or in your chest after you have just started swallowing the substance. Here are the major causes of esophageal dysphagia. 


When the sphincter or the lower esophageal muscle does not relax properly in order to allow your food to enter the stomach, it might cause food to come back up into the throat again. The muscles that are present in the esophagus wall might also be weak. 

Over time, this condition tends to worsen. 

Esophageal Stricture

A stricture or narrowed esophagus can trap large pieces of food. Scar tissues or tumors often caused by GERD or gastroesophageal reflux disease can cause narrowing. 

Diffuse Spasm

Now, this is a particular condition that causes poorly coordinated contraction, and high pressure on the esophagus, generally after swallowing. It affects all those involuntary muscles in the walls of the lower esophagus. 

Foreign Bodies

Sometimes, any type of object other than food or food itself can partially block the esophagus or throat. Usually, people who have difficulty chewing their food or older adults with dentures might get a piece of their food lodged in the esophagus or throat. 

Esophageal Tumors

When esophagus tumors are present, the esophagus gets narrower, and as a result, the swallowing difficulty becomes worse. 


In this article the esophageal tissue gets damage from stomach acid backing up into the esophagus that might lead to scarring or spasm and narrowing of the lower part of the esophagus. 

Esophageal Ring

This is a thin area in the lower esophagus. Narrowing this part might result in difficulty swallowing solid foods on and off. 

Radiation Therapy

Radiotherapy, the most common cancer treatment, can lead to scarring and inflammation of the esophagus. 

Oropharyngeal Dysphagia

On the other hand, some specific conditions can weaken the throat muscles and make it really complicated to move food from your mouth to your throat. As a result, you might gag, choke or cough when you forcefully try to swallow. Here are the common causes of this condition. 

Neurological Disorders

Some specific disorders, like muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson’s disease, might cause dysphagia. 

Pharyngoesophageal Diverticulum

In this condition, a small pouch is formed that collects food particles in the throat. Often it is developed just above the esophagus and leads to difficulty in swallowing along with bad breath, gurgling sounds, repeated throat coughing, and clearing. 

Neurological Damage

Any type of sudden neurological damage, like a brain stroke or spinal cord injury, might affect the ability to swallow. 


Some particular cancers and also some cancer treatments like radiation, as we have told before, can cause swallowing difficulty. 

Visit Your Doctor

If you are experiencing swallowing difficulty, it is always best to consult with your doctor as soon as possible. The causes need to be addressed well, or they can cause some serious issues, and accidents might also happen. 

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