Swallowing pain is any pain while swallowing. You may feel it high in the neck or lower down behind the breastbone. It is most often a strong feeling of uncomfortable squeezing and burning. Swallowing pain may be a symptom of a serious disorder.
See also: Swallowing difficulty
Swallowing is a complex act that involves the mouth, throat area, and esophagus (the tube that moves food to the stomach). Many nerves and muscles control how these body parts work. Part of swallowing is voluntary, which means you are aware of controlling the action. However, much of swallowing is involuntary.
Problems at any point -- from chewing food and moving it into the back of the mouth to moving the food into the stomach -- can result in painful swallowing.
Chest pain, the feeling of food stuck in the throat, or heaviness or pressure in the neck or upper chest while eating are often the result of swallowing difficulties.
Swallowing problems may be due to infections, such as:
Swallowing problems may be due to a problem with the esophagus, such as:
Other causes of swallowing problems include:
Eat slowly and chew food thoroughly.
If someone is choking, immediately perform the Heimlich maneuver .
You may have an easier time swallowing liquids or pureed foods than solids.
Avoid very cold or very hot foods if you notice that they make your symptoms worse.
Call your doctor or nurse if you have painful swallowing and:
Tell your doctor about any other symptoms that occur with the painful swallowing, including:
The doctor or nurse will examine you and ask questions about your medical history and symptoms, including:
The following tests may be done:
Swallowing - pain or burning; Odynophagia; Burning feeling when swallowing
Falk GW, Katzka DA. Diseases of the esophagus.In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds.Cecil Medicine. 24th ed.Philadelphia,PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 140.
Kahrilas PJ, Pandolfino JE. Esophageal neuromuscular function and motility disorders. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds.Sleisenger & Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 9th ed.Philadelphia,Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2010:chap 42.
Updated by: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; George F. Longstreth, MD, Department of Gastroenterology, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, San Diego, California. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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