Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

Overview Incidence Symptoms Evaluation Treatment specialist Home Care warning signs Outlook Underlying Cause Types Anatomy

Difficulty Swallowing Underlying Cause

Swallowing involves a sequence of actions as the food moves from the mouth to the stomach.

These actions include:

  • After chewing, the tongue propels the food into the back of the throat.
  • The top of the esophagus opens.
  • Muscles in the throat propel the food into the esophagus.
  • Muscles in the wall of the esophagus propel the food down the esophagus.
  • The top of the esophagus closes.
  • The bottom of the esophagus opens.
  • Food enters the stomach.
  • The bottom of the esophagus closes, preventing food from backing up into the esophagus after it reaches the stomach.

Difficulty swallowing may be caused by the following processes:

Common causes of difficulty swallowing include:

Less common causes of difficulty swallowing include:

Continue to Difficulty Swallowing Types

Last Updated: Jan 28, 2011 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Difficulty Swallowing References
  1. Achem SR, Devault KR. Dysphagia in aging. J Clin Gastroenterol. 2005 May-Jun;39(5):357-71. [15815202]
  2. Cook IJ, Kahrilas PJ. AGA technical review on management of oropharyngeal dysphagia. Gastroenterology. 1999 Feb;116(2):455-78. [9922328]
  3. Leslie P, Drinnan MJ, Ford GA, Wilson JA. Swallow respiratory patterns and aging: presbyphagia or dysphagia? J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2005 Mar;60(3):391-5. [15860480]
  4. Rubenstein JH, Inadomi JM. Dysphagia drives doctors to diagnose a disease: pitfalls in interpreting observational studies. Gastrointest Endosc. 2005 Jun;61(7):809-11. [15933680]
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