Dysphagia: Meaning, Diagnosis and Overview

What is Dysphagia?

Dysphagia is the medical term for the symptom of difficulty swallowing. It is usually a sign of a problem with your throat or oesophagus the muscular tube that moves food and liquids from the back of your mouth to your stomach. The condition results from impeded transport of liquids, solids, or both from the pharynx to the stomach.
It is most common in older adults, babies, and people who have problems of the brain or nervous system.
There are two types of Dysphagia:
  • Oropharyngeal dysphagia (or high dysphagia). In this type the problem arises in the mouth and/or throat. This is a neurological disorder and is the more difficult type.
  • Oesophageal dysphagia (or low dysphagia). In this case, the problem lies in the oesophagus. In many cases, this is caused by a blockage, restriction or irritation. Minor cases of this type of dysphagia can be easily treated.

Recovery Time

The condition usually gets resolved within few days.


Diagnosis is based on the physical examination and tests may be recommended to determine the cause of swallowing problem.
  • X-ray with a contrast material (barium X-ray)
  • Dynamic swallowing study
  • A visual examination of your esophagus (endoscopy)
  • Esophageal muscle test (manometry)

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