Have a symptom?
See what questions
a doctor would ask.
Symptoms » Swallowing difficulty

Swallowing difficulty

Swallowing difficulty: Introduction

Swallowing difficulty is a symptom of a wide variety of mild to serious diseases, disorders and conditions. Swallowing difficulty can result from infection, allergy, inflammation, trauma, malignancy, airway obstruction and other abnormal conditions.

Swallowing difficulty can occur in any age group or population. Swallowing difficulty can accompany a mild condition, such as anxiety or a sore throat due to shouting. Swallowing difficulty can also be the result of a moderate condition, disorder or disease, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), esophageal stricture or strep throat. Swallowing difficulty can also accompany serious conditions, such as foreign body, cancer of the esophagus, airway obstruction, throat trauma, tumor of the larynx and epiglottis.

Depending on the cause, swallowing difficulty can be short-term and disappear quickly, such as when swallowing difficulty occurs after talking excessively, singing or straining the voice. Swallowing difficulty can also be chronic and ongoing over a longer period of time, such as when swallowing difficulty is due to gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or cancer of the esophagus.

Swallowing difficulty can be the result of a wide variety of other conditions, including a pharyngeal pouch, achalasia, esophageal stricture, pharyngitis, laryngitis, allergic reactions, mumps and infectious mononucleosis.

Swallowing difficulty often occurs in conjunction with other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Other common symptoms include regurgitation of food, burning in the chest, chest pain, weight loss, fever, swollen glands, hoarseness and flu-like symptoms. Complications of swallowing difficulty can include decreased food and fluid intake. The underlying disorder, disease or condition can also cause complications, which can be serious, even life-threatening in some cases. For more details about symptoms and complications, see symptoms of swallowing difficulty.

Diagnosing swallowing difficulty and its root cause begins with taking a thorough personal and family medical history, including symptoms, and completing a physical examination. This includes examining the throat for signs of throat abnormalities such as redness and inflammation. Infection may be suspected when the tonsils are swollen and covered with pus. A temperature is also taken. Fever can indicate an infectious cause of the swallowing difficulty.

If an infection is the suspected cause of swallowing difficulty, a throat culture and sensitivity is performed. This test takes a swab sample of the throat and tonsils with a cotton swab. The sample is then examined and grown in the laboratory. A throat culture and sensitivity can diagnose strep throat.

Diagnosis may also include a complete blood count, which can help to determine if an infectious process, such as infectious mononucleosis is present. A test called a mono-spot may also be done to confirm infectious mononucleosis.

If an abnormality of the esophagus is the suspected cause of swallowing difficulty, other tests may be performed. These include a barium X-ray. In this test a special dye (barium) is swallowed. As barium passes through the gastrointestinal tract, it helps to illuminate the throat and esophagus and reveal any abnormalities, such as pharyngeal pouch, achalasia, or esophageal stricture.

Making a diagnosis also includes performing a variety of other tests to help to diagnose other potential underlying diseases, conditions or disorders, such as throat trauma, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and cancer of the esophagus. Depending on the suspected cause, tests can include additional blood tests, biopsy, and imaging tests, such as X-ray, CT scan, nuclear scans, and MRI.

A diagnosis of swallowing difficulty and its cause can easily be delayed or missed because swallowing difficulty may be mild or intermittent and for other reasons. For information on misdiagnosis, refer to misdiagnosis of swallowing difficulty.

Treatment of swallowing difficulty involves diagnosing and treating the underlying disease, disorder or condition that is causing it. Some conditions can be easily and successfully treated and cured, while others may require more intensive treatment and may not have an optimal prognosis. For more information on treatment, refer to treatment of swallowing difficulty....more »

Swallowing difficulty: Misdiagnosis

Diagnosing swallowing difficulty and its cause may be delayed or missed because in some cases, swallowing difficulty may not be severe enough for a person to seek medical care. In addition, diagnosing the underlying or associated disease, disorder or condition can be delayed because noticeable symptoms, such as swallowing difficulty, may not occur immediately, such as in cancer of the ...more misdiagnosis »

Causes of Swallowing difficulty:

The following medical conditions are some of the possible causes of Swallowing difficulty. There are likely to be other possible causes, so ask your doctor about your symptoms.

» Review Causes of Swallowing difficulty: Causes | Symptom Checker »

Common Causes of Swallowing difficulty

Home Diagnostic Testing and Swallowing difficulty

Home medical tests possibly related to Swallowing difficulty:

Causes of Types of Swallowing difficulty:

Review the causes of these more specific types of Swallowing difficulty:

Swallowing difficulty: Symptom Checker

Listed below are some combinations of symptoms associated with Swallowing difficulty, as listed in our database. Visit the Symptom Checker, to add and remove symptoms and research your condition.

Symptom Checker

Symptom Checker

Swallowing difficulty Treatments

Treatment plans for swallowing difficulty are individualized depending on the underlying cause, the presence of coexisting diseases, the age and medical history of the patient, and other factors. Treatment generally involves a multifaceted plan that addresses the cause, minimizes the discomfort of swallowing difficulty, decreases the risk of developing ...Swallowing difficulty Treatments

Some of the possible treatments listed in sources for treatment of Swallowing difficulty may include:

Review further information on Swallowing difficulty Treatments.

Stories from Users for Swallowing difficulty

Real-life user stories relating to Swallowing difficulty:

Message Boards for Swallowing difficulty

Symptom specific forums: The following patient stories in our interactive forums and message boards relate to Swallowing difficulty or relevant symptoms:

Swallowing difficulty: Animations

Medications or substances causing Swallowing difficulty:

The following drugs, medications, substances or toxins are some of the possible causes of Swallowing difficulty as a symptom. Always advise your doctor of any medications or treatments you are using, including prescription, over-the-counter, supplements, herbal or alternative treatments.

  • Belladonna, Phenobarbital and Ergotamine Tartrate
  • Bellergal-S
  • Bel-Phen-Ergot S
  • Phenerbel-S
  • Belladonna and Opium
  • B&O Supprettes
  • more causes...»

Swallowing difficulty: Comorbid Symptoms

Some of the comorbid or associated medical symptoms for Swallowing difficulty may include these symptoms:

Causes of General Symptom Types

Research the causes of these more general types of symptom:

Research the causes of related medical symptoms such as:

Causes of Similar Symptoms to Swallowing difficulty

Research the causes of these symptoms that are similar to, or related to, the symptom Swallowing difficulty:

Swallowing difficulty: Deaths

Read more about causes and Swallowing difficulty deaths.

Misdiagnosis and Swallowing difficulty

Chronic digestive conditions often misdiagnosed: When diagnosing chronic symptoms of the digestive tract, there are a variety of conditions that may be misdiagnosed. The best known, more »

Intestinal bacteria disorder may be hidden cause: One of the lesser known causes of diarrhea is an imbalance of bacterial in the gut, sometimes called intestinal more »

Antibiotics often causes diarrhea: The use of antibiotics are very likely to cause some level of diarrhea in patients. The reason is that antibiotics kill off not only "bad" bacteria, but can also kill the "good" bacteria in the gut. This leads to " more »

Food poisoning may actually be an infectious disease: Many people who come down with "stomach symptoms" like diarrhea assume that it's "something I ate" (i.e. food poisoning) more »

Mesenteric adenitis misdiagnosed as appendicitis in children: Because appendicitis is one of the more feared conditions for a child with abdominal pain, it can be over-diagnosed (it can, of course, also fail to be diagnosed with fatal effect). One more »

Celiac disease often fails to be diagnosed cause of chronic digestive symptoms: One of the most common chronic digestive conditions is celiac disease, a malabsorption disorder with a variety of symptoms (see symptoms of celiac more »

Chronic digestive diseases hard to diagnose: There is an inherent difficulty in diagnosing the various types of chronic digestive diseases. Some more »

Swallowing difficulty: Research Related Doctors & Specialists

Other ways to find a doctor, or use doctor, physician and specialist online research services:

Hospitals & Clinics: Swallowing difficulty

Research extensive quality ratings and patient safety measures for hospitals, clinics and medical facilities in health specialties related to Swallowing difficulty:

Swallowing difficulty: Related Rare Diseases

Rare types of medical conditions and diseases in related medical categories:

Swallowing difficulty: Undiagnosed Conditions

Conditions that are commonly undiagnosed in related areas may include:

Causes of Swallowing difficulty listed in Disease Database:

Other medical conditions listed in the Disease Database as possible causes of Swallowing difficulty as a symptom include:

Definitions of Swallowing difficulty:

Difficulty in swallowing.
- (Source - Diseases Database)

Organs affected by Swallowing difficulty:

The list of organs typically affected by Swallowing difficulty may include, but is not limited to:

Detailed list of causes of Swallowing difficulty

The list below shows some of the causes of Swallowing difficulty mentioned in various sources:

How Common are these Causes of Swallowing difficulty?

This information refers to the general prevalence and incidence of these diseases, not to how likely they are to be the actual cause of Swallowing difficulty. Of the 702 causes of Swallowing difficulty that we have listed, we have the following prevalence/incidence information:

  • 7 causes are "very common" diseases
  • 13 causes are "common" diseases
  • 8 causes are "uncommon" diseases
  • 6 causes are "rare" diseases
  • 29 causes are "very rare" diseases
  • 663 causes have no prevalence information.

Conditions listing medical symptoms: Swallowing difficulty:

The following list of conditions have 'Swallowing difficulty' or similar listed as a symptom in our database. This computer-generated list may be inaccurate or incomplete. Always seek prompt professional medical advice about the cause of any symptom.

Select from the following alphabetical view of conditions which include a symptom of Swallowing difficulty or choose View All.

View All A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Z #






















  • Ulcer ... Difficulty swallowing





Conditions listing medical complications: Swallowing difficulty:

The following list of medical conditions have Swallowing difficulty or similar listed as a medical complication in our database. The distinction between a symptom and complication is not always clear, and conditions mentioning this symptom as a complication may also be relevant. This computer-generated list may be inaccurate or incomplete. Always seek prompt professional medical advice about the cause of any symptom.








Join in at the forums

Ask or answer a question about symptoms or diseases at one of our free interactive user forums.

Medical story forums: If you have a medical story then we want to hear it.

See a list of all the medical forums

Causes of Swallowing difficulty Based on Risk Factors

This information shows analysis of the list of causes of Swallowing difficulty based on whether certain risk factors apply to the patient:

  • Travel - has the patient travelled recently?
  • Diabetes - history of diabetes or family history of diabetes?

    Doctors and specialists: Who should I consult about Swallowing difficulty?

    Depending on the seriousness of the onset of Swallowing difficulty, you may want to consult one of the following medical professionals.

    Important:In extreme cases, always seek advice from emergency services :

    What are the alternative names for Swallowing difficulty:

    Difficulty swallowing, Odynophagia, Painful swallowing, Dysphagia, Deglutition disorder
    - (Source - Diseases Database)

    Classifications of Swallowing difficulty:

    Subtypes of Swallowing difficulty:

    Pain swallowing (118 causes), Nasal regurgitation of food (1 cause), Chewing difficulty (22 causes)

    Medical Conditions associated with Swallowing difficulty:

    Swallowing symptoms (664 causes), Eating symptoms (2462 causes), Esophagus symptoms (3079 causes), Throat symptoms (3410 causes), Food symptoms (1907 causes), Mouth symptoms (6864 causes), Digestive symptoms (5299 causes), Respiratory symptoms (5166 causes), Breathing symptoms (3381 causes), Breath symptoms (3023 causes), Head symptoms (10192 causes), Face symptoms (8109 causes)

    Symptoms related to Swallowing difficulty:

    Pain swallowing (118 causes), Swallowing symptoms (664 causes), Sore throat (512 causes), Throat symptoms (3410 causes), Tongue symptoms (430 causes), Strep throat (2 causes), Flu (168 causes), Laryngitis (23 causes), Pharyngitis (46 causes), Tonsillitis (17 causes), Oral candidiasis (30 causes), Mouth ulcers (253 causes), Tongue ulcers (24 causes), Glossitis (55 causes), Oral herpes simplex, Esophageal pain, Esophageal conditions

    Medical articles on signs and symptoms:

    Doctor-patient articles related to symptoms and diagnosis:

    These general medical articles may be of interest:

    Medical News summaries about Swallowing difficulty

    Our news pages contain the following medical news summaries about Swallowing difficulty and many other medical conditions:

    Evidence Based Medicine Research for Swallowing difficulty

    Medical research papers related to Swallowing difficulty include:

    Research More Evidence-Based Medicine at

    Related medical articles from our Disease Center for Swallowing Difficulty:

    More Ways To Research Medical Signs and Symptoms:


    By using this site you agree to our Terms of Use. Information provided on this site is for informational purposes only; it is not intended as a substitute for advice from your own medical team. The information on this site is not to be used for diagnosing or treating any health concerns you may have - please contact your physician or health care professional for all your medical needs. Please see our Terms of Use.

    Home | Symptoms | Diseases | Diagnosis | Videos | Tools | Forum | About Us | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Site Map | Advertise