Mr John Marshall - Consultant Otolaryngologist

Swallowing Problems

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When we swallow, a series of reflexes pushes the food or fluid from the back of our mouth down through the pharynx (throat) and oesophagus to the stomach. To help this process we have several safety mechanisms to stop anything going down 'the wrong way' into our windpipe and lungs. For this reason our swallowing mechanism is more complex than it would otherwise need to be.

Swallowing difficulties (also called Dysphagia) can arise from physical obstruction to the swallowing pathway or from alteration of the coordination of the swallowing mechanism. Sometimes muscle spasms can affect the process. Commonly people become aware of abnormal sensations in the throat but swallowing itself is not affected. Sometimes food and fluid go down normally but swallowing is painful.

Swallowing difficulties can be the sign of serious underlying problems and you should contact your GP if you are affected. Depending on your actual symptoms an urgent ENT or gastroenterology opinion may be sought.

If you would like to arrange an appointment to discuss your symptoms further, please do so via using one of the available options on our contact us page