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Auckland DHB ENT - Otorhinolaryngology (ORL)

Public Service, ENT/ Head & Neck Surgery

Swallowing Disorders (Dysphagia)

If you find it difficult to pass food or liquid from your mouth to your stomach, you may have a swallowing disorder or dysphagia. Symptoms may include: a feeling that food is sticking in your throat, discomfort in your throat or chest, a sensation of a ‘lump’ in your throat, coughing or choking.
A disorder may occur in any part of the swallowing process such as the mouth, pharynx (tube at the back of the throat that connects your mouth with your oesophagus), oesophagus (food pipe that takes food to your stomach) or stomach.
Causes of dysphagia include: gastro-oesophageal reflux, a tumour, a narrowing of the swallowing passage (stricture) or a neurological disorder (such as a stroke).
Diagnosis may be by examination of a mucous sample or by viewing the pharynx, oesophagus and stomach using a small, flexible tube with a tiny camera on the end that is inserted down the back of your throat.
Treatments for dysphagia depend on the causes, but may include:
  • Medication – antacids, muscle relaxants or medicine to slow down stomach acid production
  • Lifestyle changes, eg. diet
  • Swallowing therapy
  • Surgery e.g. stretching or releasing a tightened muscle

This page was last updated at 3:37PM on August 24, 2021.