Swallowing Problems and Dysphagia

Mouth | Gastroenterology | Swallowing Problems and Dysphagia (Symptom)


Swallowing disorders, also known as dysphagia can occur at one of the three different stages in the swallowing process:

(1) Oral phase -sucking, chewing, and moving food or liquid into the throat

(2) Pharyngeal phase -starting the swallowing reflex, squeezing food down the throat, and closing off the airway to prevent food or liquid from entering the airway

(3) Esophageal phase -relaxing and tightening the openings at the top and bottom of the feeding tube in the throat (esophagus) and squeezing food through the esophagus into the stomach


Normally, the muscles of the throat and esophagus contract to move food and liquids from the mouth to the stomach without problems. Sometimes, though, food and liquids have trouble getting to your stomach. There are two types of problems that can make it hard for food and liquids to travel down the esophagus: (1) the muscles and nerves that help move food through the throat and esophagus are not working right (problems with your nervous system, immune system problem, esophageal spasm, scleroderma); (2) something is blocking the throat or esophagus (GERD, esophagitis, diverticula, esophageal tumors or masses outside the esophagus).

A dry mouth can worsen dysphagia. A dry mouth can be caused by medicines or another health problem.