If you have a problem swallowing foods or liquids, you may have dysphagia. This means it may take more time and effort to move food or liquid from your mouth to your stomach. Difficulty swallowing may also be associated with pain. In some cases you may not be able to swallow.
Dysphagia occurs when there's a problem with any part of the swallowing process.
Dysphagia can be caused by any of the following:
Symptoms of dysphagia may include:
* A feeling of chest pressure or pain when you swallow.
* Choking or coughing when swallowing.
* Vomiting after eating or drinking.
* Aspirating (inhaling into the lungs) food or liquids when you swallow.
* Fatigue and unexpected weight loss.
* Frequent heartburn.
In addition, infants and children may have the following symptoms:
* Lack of attention during feeding or meals.
* Breastfeeding problems.
* Food or liquid leaking from the mouth.
* Repeated swallowing.
* Coughing or gagging during feedings or meals.
* Inability to coordinate breathing with eating and drinking.
* Frequent respiratory infections.
Your doctor will likely perform a physical examination and use a variety of tests to determine the cause of your swallowing problem. These tests could include a barium swallow x-ray, an upper endoscopy (EGD), or an esophageal muscle test (manometry).
The treatment options for dysphagia will be based on the particular type or cause of your swallowing disorder.
Contact your doctor if you are frequently experiencing difficulty with swallowing. Call 911 or go to the nearest emergency department if an obstruction causes an inability to swallow or interferes with breathing.