What is painful swallowing?

The act of swallowing involves several organs of the digestive system, including the mouth, throat, pharynx and esophagus. It begins during mastication, or chewing of food, which is part of mechanical digestion. Your saliva contains enzymes that break down or emulsify food into a soft mass that can travel down the esophagus, the tube connecting your mouth to your stomach. Swallowing is partly voluntary, occurring at your command, and partly involuntary, controlled by muscles and nerves.

Problems during any stage of this process can cause painful or difficulty swallowing. The medical term for painful swallowing is odynophagia. The pain may occur in your throat, chest or neck. You may feel pressure, heaviness, or the sensation of choking. It can also result in regurgitation or vomiting.

Painful swallowing can indicate a serious problem. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you experience painful swallowing accompanied by difficulty breathing, choking, vomiting blood, or stools that are bloody, black or tarry.


What other symptoms might occur with painful swallowing?

Painful swallowing may accompany other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Symptoms that frequently affect the digestive tract may also involve other body systems.

Gastrointestinal symptoms that may occur along with painful swallowing

Painful swallowing may accompany other symptoms affecting the gastrointestinal system includ... Read more about painful swallowingsymptoms


What causes painful swallowing?

Painful swallowing can have a number of causes, including infections, conditions specific to the esophagus (tube connecting your mouth to your stomach), and mechanical obstructions, such as food or something caught in your throat.

Infectious or inflammatory causes of painful swallowing

Painful swallowing may be caused by infections or inflammation including:

... Read more about painful swallowingcauses

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Sep 20, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Ear, Nose and Throat

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