Swallowing problems

Dysphagia is the medical term for swallowing difficulties, which can affect children and adults for a number of reasons

What is dysphagia?

Dysphagia is the medical term for swallowing difficulties. Some patients start with difficulties swallowing certain foods. You may notice solid foods like bread or meat get stuck in the throat or lower down on the way to your stomach.

This is often compensated by drinking more water or replacing solid diets with semi-solid or liquid diets. The difficulty with swallowing might worsen over time.

Need to know

  • What are the symptoms of dysphagia? icon plus

    Symptoms vary from person to person but may include:

    • difficulty swallowing certain foods or liquids, or just swallowing
    • coughing or choking when eating or drinking
    • regurgitating food after swallowing, back into the mouth or nose
    • feeling like food is stuck in your throat or lower down
    • continuously drooling saliva
    • over time weight loss and repeated chest infections
  • How is dyshagia diagnosed? icon plus

    Dysphagia can be due to inflammatory, allergic or even malignant disorders. Your consultant will start investigations by taking an X-ray of your oesophagus (after you have swallowed a contrast) or by performing a camera examination (endoscopy).

    • If these results are normal, you are considered to have a non-obstructive dysphagia. This means the difficulty in swallowing is probably related to a disorder of function of the swallow mechanism or your oesophagus.
    • If the results reveal another suspected underlying cause you may be required to have further tests to confirm a diagnosis.
  • Dysphagia treatment options icon plus

    Treatment for this condition depends on your symptoms, but can include:

    • changing the consistency of food and drinks
    • speech and language therapy to learn new swallowing techniques
    • medication to improve the strength of the contractions
    • diatation of the valve between the oesophagus and stomach (achalasia)
    • an endoscopy/gastroscopy, which involves inserting a flexible tube down your mouth to examine your oesophagus and stomach

Our gastroenterologists

Our gastroenterologists diagnose, treat and manage conditions of the lower and upper intestinal tract.

Diagnostic tests are conducted at an Endocopy Unit in a HCA Uk facility where the consultant is supported by an specialist team of nurses experienced in supporting patients through gastric procedures. 

Our locations

From complex surgery to straightforward procedures, we provide exceptional care across our network of hospitals, endoscopy units and specialist clinics.

Book an appointment

Our team can help with any enquiries or you can make an appointment with one of our experienced consultants.

Call us today

020 7079 4344
This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.
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