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What Is Dysphagia?

Dysphagia/Difficulty Swallowing

Swallowing occurs in three different stages, the oral (mouth), pharyngeal (throat), and esophageal (esophagus). Difficulty can occur at any one, or combination of these stages. Difficulty swallowing is known as dysphagia.

Anatomy & Physiology, Connexions Web site.  http://cnx.org/content/col11496/1.6/ , Jun 19, 2013.

Anatomy & Physiology, Connexions Web site. http://cnx.org/content/col11496/1.6/, Jun 19, 2013.

Signs/Symptoms of Dysphagia

  • Drooling

  • Difficulty moving food/liquid from mouth to throat

  • Multiple swallows to "clear" food/liquid

  • Changes in voice quality with eating/drinking

  • Throat clearing or coughing with eating/drinking

  • Pain with swallowing

  • Sensation of food/liquid becoming "stuck" in throat

  • Feeling of a lump in the throat

  • Choking episodes

Bill Branson (Photographer): National Cancer Institute

Bill Branson (Photographer): National Cancer Institute

Common Causes

  • Stroke

  • Brain or spinal cord injury

  • Parkinson’s disease

  • Multiple sclerosis

  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)

  • Head & neck cancer

  • Alzheimer’s disease

  • Injury or surgery involving the head or neck

    • *This list is not exhaustive