What Could Cause Trouble Swallowing – Should You Be Worried?

Having difficulty swallowing, or feeling pain while swallowing, is a condition known as dysphagia. While you can experience trouble swallowing at any age, it’s much more common in elderly people.

Difficulty swallowing can be extremely unpleasant, upsetting and frightening. Symptoms may include frequent heartburn, drooling or pain while swallowing. In elderly people it is often caused by neurological disorders or diseases such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s. In some cases, swallowing therapy can be helpful.

Fairview Rehab and Nursing Home in Queens NY has specialists experienced in diagnosing and treating the different causes of swallowing problems. We understand how frightening this condition can be and are on hand to provide emotional support. Not being able to swallow without assistance restricts independence and quality of life. Our inpatient and outpatient speech and swallowing therapy can go a long way towards easing trouble swallowing and preventing complications.

Black nurse providing aide to a senior woman with trouble swallowing.

Let’s take a look at some of the main causes of this condition as treatments will depend on causes. What follows is guidance in the form of an overview. See a doctor if you notice you are having trouble swallowing as it may indicate a serious underlying cause.

Why Do I Suddenly Struggle To Swallow?

Many different muscles and nerves are brought into play during the process of swallowing. If you have an illness or condition that interferes with this process, you may have trouble swallowing. Neurological diseases affect the nervous system and may lead to a narrowing of the back of the esophagus or throat. This, in turn, can, in the worst-case scenario, lead to an inability to swallow.

People who have swallowing problems may feel food sticking in their throat or chest. This can be due to weakened muscles in the wall of the esophagus, or the presence of a tumor. Stomach acid can lead to spasms, or the development of scar tissue, both of which also impede normal swallowing. Sometimes the throat may be partially blocked by a foreign body, also causing swallowing issues.  

Other causes of trouble swallowing

Oropharyngeal dysphagia is a range of conditions that affect swallowing that are mainly caused by neurological conditions. For instance, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, and Parkinson’s disease can all lead to trouble swallowing.

Strokes or spinal cord injuries are also common causes of swallowing difficulties. Furthermore, certain cancers, as well as radiation therapy, can cause scarring of tissues, likewise affecting the ability to swallow.

Should I be worried about my swallowing difficulty?

If you have trouble swallowing for more than a day or so, be sure to seek medical advice. Not being able to swallow properly is worrying and can affect your mental and physical health, so take it seriously. Seek medical advice immediately if this condition is also affecting your breathing.

This article contains informational and educational materials and does not replace health or medical advice. For questions or concerns regarding your medical condition or health objectives, speak to a qualified physician or healthcare provider.