Dysphagia is the medical term for trouble swallowing. While occasional Dysphagia is normal (can occur when food is not chewed properly or too large of portion is swallowed) and occurs occasionally, ongoing Dysphagia or severe symptoms (such as not being able to swallow or accompanied by pain) could signal a more serious concern.
Symptoms of Dysphagia can vary and include pain with swallowing, inability to swallow, feeling like food is stuck in your throat, food coming back up your throat (regurgitation), heartburn, weight loss, or coughing and gagging when swallowing.
Persistent Dysphagia can be caused by multiple factors or conditions including esophageal muscle spasms or weakness, stricture (narrowing of the esophagus) making it hard for food to pass, reflux disease, foreign bodies (food or object becoming lodged in the esophagus), certain neurologic conditions, and, in some cases, tumors or cancer.
Diagnosing Dysphagia can be achieved through swallowing studies, endoscopy (use of a small camera to inspect your esophagus), manometry (tests your esophageal muscles) and imaging, such as CT scan or MRI, to evaluate your organs and determine a cause for your symptoms.
Treatment for Dysphagia is based on the cause of your condition. Some individuals require dilatation (use of a balloon during endoscopy to widen your esophagus), medications to treat an underlying condition or even surgery in severe cases. Your physician may recommend dietary changes and/or exercises to strengthen your esophageal muscles.