Most people have occasional difficulty swallowing, but when the issue is chronic, it can indicate a serious medical condition.
The medical term for difficulty swallowing is dysphagia. Swallowing disorders might be accompanied by a number of other symptoms, including:
- Discomfort in the throat or chest
- Unexpected weight loss and inadequate nutrition
- Coughing or choking while eating or drinking
- Frequent throat clearing
Dysphagia is common in older adults, though the condition can occur at any age. There are many causes, including:
- Ill-fitting dentures
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Tonsil infection
- Functional disorders of the throat
- Neurological disorders
- Thyroid disease
- Vocal cord paralysis
Treatment for difficulty swallowing varies based on the underlying cause. Treatment plans begin with an examination which might require multiple procedures to determine the cause. Once the cause is determined, dysphagia is usually treated with medication, swallowing therapy, or surgery. Neurological causes require ongoing treatment from a specialist.