If you have a swallowing disorder, you may have difficulty or pain when swallowing. Some people cannot swallow at all. Others may have trouble swallowing liquids, foods, or saliva. This makes it hard to eat. Often, it can be difficult to take in enough calories and fluids to nourish your body.
Anyone can have a swallowing disorder, but it is more likely in the elderly. It often happens because of other conditions, including
- Nervous system disorders, such as Parkinson's disease and cerebral palsy
- Problems with your esophagus, including GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease)
- Head or spinal cord injury
- Cancer of the head, neck, or esophagus
Medicines can help some people, while others may need surgery. Swallowing treatment with a speech-language pathologist can help. You may find it helpful to change your diet or hold your head or neck in a certain way when you eat. In very serious cases, people may need feeding tubes.
NIH: National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders
- Dysphagia (National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders)
- Dysphagia (Difficulty Swallowing) (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research)
- Swallowing Disorders (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke) - Short Summary Available in Spanish
- Swallowing Trouble (American Academy of Otolaryngology--Head and Neck Surgery)
Diagnosis and Tests
- Endoscopic Evaluation of Swallowing (Endoscopy) (American Speech-Language-Hearing Association)
- Esophagram (Barium Swallow Study) (National Jewish Health)
- Tailored Barium Swallow Study (National Jewish Health)
- Understanding Esophageal Manometry (American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy) Available in Spanish
- Upper GI Endoscopy (National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases) Available in Spanish
- Videofluoroscopic Swallowing Study (VFSS) (American Speech-Language-Hearing Association)
- Globus (International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders)
- Genetics Home Reference: oculopharyngeal muscular dystrophy (National Library of Medicine)
Health Check Tools
- Difficulty Swallowing (DSHI Systems)
Journal ArticlesReferences and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)
- Article: Interventions for dysphagia in long-term, progressive muscle disease.
- Article: Percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy versus percutaneous radiological gastrostomy for swallowing disturbances.
- Article: Dysphagia in the high-risk infant: potential factors and mechanisms.
- Swallowing Disorders -- see more articles
Find an Expert
- American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
- Find an ENT (American Academy of Otolaryngology--Head and Neck Surgery)
- National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders
- Feeding and Swallowing Disorders (Dysphagia) in Children (American Speech-Language-Hearing Association)