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Trouble Swallowing Food

Trouble Swallowing Food

Experiencing pain or discomfort while swallowing food is a common occurrence, and most times it is just an indication of eating too fast. However, having this problem on a regular basis is a condition that must not be neglected at any cost. This HealthHearty article will provide some of the causes of this common ailment.
Rahul Thadani
Last Updated: Mar 19, 2018
Swallowing food is something that is usually carried out with relative ease unless there is some sort of illness or disease that one is afflicted with. Difficulty in swallowing, sometimes, is experienced by many people, and in most cases, it is not a cause for alarm, as this is a result of not chewing the food properly, or also due to the dryness of the particular food item. Having this problem, basically implies that one is experiencing some difficulty in passing the food from the mouth into the stomach, and is also feeling some degree of pain while doing so.
Difficulty in gulping food is a condition known as dysphagia, and is mostly experienced by very young children or by elderly people. You may have noticed that when you are unwell, and suffering from a bad cough, swallowing becomes slightly harder than under normal circumstances. Some people may also experience ear pain with it. The causes for this difficulty are hard to ascertain just at a glance, simply because there are so many muscle groups and nerves involved in the chewing and swallowing process. There are mainly two types of dysphagia that affect people - oropharyngeal dysphagia and esophageal dysphagia.
Oropharyngeal Dysphagia
These are causes that stem from some malfunctioning of the nerves involved in the chewing and swallowing process. The throat muscles are severely weakened due to these causes, and there is an extreme sensation of pain and discomfort while swallowing. The food almost refuses to go down the food pipe, and when it does, it sometimes produces a feeling that it may come back up. The following are the causes of oropharyngeal dysphagia.
Cancer
It could be that an individual is suffering from cancer, if he/she is facing consistent trouble in swallowing. There are many types of cancer that are capable of producing this effect.
Neurological damage or disorder
Some damage that is caused to the neurological system due to a stroke or brain injury induces some difficulty in swallowing at times. Other conditions such as Parkinson's disease, post-polio syndrome, multiple sclerosis and muscular dystrophy are also known to cause oropharyngeal dysphagia, and can be detected by this condition.
Esophageal Dysphagia
Any sensation that generates a feeling of food getting stuck in the throat is called esophageal dysphagia. If a person is experiencing it, he should be cautious, as it could be caused by any one of these factors.
Old age
As a person grows older, the muscles in the esophagus (food pipe) become weaker, just like any other muscle group in the body. This leads to swallowing difficulty at times.
Esophageal stricture and esophageal ring
This is the term given to the narrowing of the esophagus, and can be caused by a number of other factors as well. The area that is narrowed down resembles a ring in shape, and its tightness may prevent food from passing through, on some occasions.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
When the acids released by the stomach pass up through the food pipe, they can damage the lining of the pipe and cause a lot of discomfort while swallowing food. These are very potent acids and the stomach has a special layer of lining so that it does not get affected by the acids. The esophagus is not blessed with this protective layering.
Stuck food
Many times, an item of food may have gotten stuck in the esophagus. This prevents the others from passing down, and produces a lot of pain and trouble.
Scleroderma
This is a disease that is known to cause hardening of the tissues that are involved in the chewing and swallowing process. Being afflicted by this disease can cause a lot of problems.
Cancer treatment
Many people who are undergoing some form of treatment for cancer, also experience this problem as a side effect of that particular treatment.
When a person finds that he is regularly suffering from some form of dysphagia, he should visit a doctor and reveal all the details of the problem. It could be that this condition is an allergic reaction to some particular food item as well, and if this is the case then that item should be strictly avoided. Problem in swallowing is not something that should be taken lightly, as it could be a symptom of many serious ailments. Corrective measures must be taken as soon as possible.