Painful Swallowing

Also known as: pain when swallowing, difficulty swallowing, odynophagia

What is painful swallowing?

If a patient experiences any discomfort or pain when swallowing, this can be classified as painful swallowing. It may occur anywhere from the neck to the breastbone and feel like a burning or squeezing sensation.

What might cause painful swallowing?

Painful swallowing may be caused by any of the following:
  • Gum disease (gingivitis)
  • Sore throat related to the cold, flu or other illnesses
  • Thrush
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease
  • Inflammation of the esophagus
  • Ulcers in the mouth, throat or esophagus
  • Food or foreign objects stuck in the throat
  • Tooth infections or abscesses
  • Certain viruses

How can you treat it?

If you have painful swallowing related to another medical condition, you can relieve the symptoms by avoiding very hot or cold foods and chewing your food slowly and thoroughly. You can also puree foods if they are difficulty to swallow. Over-the-counter lozenges or sprays can also help relieve painful swallowing.

When should you seek medical attention?

If painful swallowing is accompanied by symptoms such as weight loss, lightheadedness, shortness of breath or bloody stools, seek medical attention. Painful swallowing related to choking should be treated with the immediate application of the Heimlich maneuver.

Reviewed by: Yamilet Tirado

This page was last updated on: January 23, 2020 11:45 AM

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