Painful Swallowing


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By Medicover Hospitals / 18 Jan 2021
Home | symptoms | Painful Swallowing
  • Pain when swallowing food or liquids. Painful swallowing can have causes that are not due to an underlying disease. Examples include a recent burn in the mouth, swallowing something too big, having something stuck in the throat, or dryness.
  • Article Context:

    1. What is Painful swallowing?
    2. Causes
    3. Diagnosis
    4. Treatment
    5. When to visit a Doctor?
    6. Home remedies
    7. FAQ's

    What is Painful swallowing?

  • Swallowing involves multiple organs in the digestive system, including the mouth, throat, pharynx, and esophagus. It starts with chewing or chewing food, which is part of mechanical digestion. Your saliva contains enzymes that break down or emulsify food into a soft mass that can travel into the esophagus, the tube connecting your mouth to your stomach. Swallowing is partly voluntary, taking place under your control, and partly involuntary, controlled by muscles and nerves.
  • Problems at any point in this process can cause pain or difficulty swallowing. The Medical terminology for painful swallowing is odynophagia. Pain can occur in the throat, chest, or neck. You may feel pressure, heaviness, or a feeling of suffocation. It can also lead to regurgitation or vomiting.
  • Causes:

  • The most common causes of painful swallowing include the following:
    • a cold
    • influenza
    • chronic cough
    • throat infection, such as strep throat
    • acid reflux
    • tonsillitis
  • Other possible causes of painful swallowing include:
    • swollen lymph nodes in the neck
    • a throat injury
    • an ear infection
    • swallow big pills
    • incorrectly swallowing shredded foods, such as crisps or crackers
  • In rare cases, painful swallowing can indicate certain types of cancer, such as cancer of the esophagus.
  • Diagnosis:

  • To diagnose your condition, your doctor or licensed health care professional will ask you several questions related to your painful swallowing, including:
    • How long have you had pain when swallowing? Has it improved over time or worse?
    • Is the pain limited to the ingestion of certain foods?
    • Does pain happen by swallowing liquids, solids or all substances?
    • Do you have a sore throat or do you feel like there is a lump?
    • Have you recently been ill with symptoms such as cough or chest irritation?
    • Could you have inhaled or swallowed something that irritates your throat?
    • Do you have other symptoms?
    • Do you have any other medical problems?
    • What medications do you take?


  • Treatment for painful swallowing may vary depending on the cause of the pain. Your physician will probably prescribe antibiotics to treat infections of the throat, tonsils, or esophagus. Your physician may give you a mouthwash that may numb your throat while you are taking oral antibiotics.
  • This numbing agent helps block any pain you may feel when swallowing the pill. If there is a serious pain, a throat spray can help numb the pain. Your doctor may also prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce inflammation of the esophagus, throat, or tonsils.
  • If you frequently experience painful swallowing due to recurrent tonsillitis or if your tonsillitis does not respond to medications, your doctor may recommend surgery to remove your tonsils.
  • This surgery is called a tonsillectomy. It is an outpatient procedure, which means you can go home the same day as the surgery. You and your doctor can discuss your risks and determine if a tonsillectomy is right for you.
  • When to visit a Doctor?

  • You should always see a doctor if you have life-threatening symptoms such as:
    • difficulty in breathing
    • difficulty swallowing
    • dizziness
    • high fever, which occurs when a child or adult has a temperature over 38 ° C (100.4 ° F)
  • See a doctor for less severe symptoms if they don't go away within the expected time or if they get worse. Ignoring the symptoms can lead to bigger health problems, so don't delay the diagnosis.
  • A doctor will:
    • discuss your symptoms
    • perform a physical exam
    • order any tests necessary to diagnose the condition

    Home Remedies:

  • People may use the following home remedies to relieve the short-term pain of swallowing:
    • Taking anti-inflammatory drugs: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can reduce swelling and inflammation in the mouth, throat, and food tube, making it easier and less painful to swallow.
    • Taking Antacids: Over the counter (OTC) antacids are effective in reducing pain resulting from acid reflux.
    • Taking Antacids: Over the counter (OTC) antacids are effective in reducing pain resulting from acid reflux.
    • Using throat sprays: Sprays can numb the throat and help with swallowing. These are available OTC or online.
    • Gargle with salt water: Saltwater can decrease inflammation and make swallowing less painful. Mix 8 ounces (oz) of lukewarm water with 1 teaspoon (teaspoon) of salt and gargle this solution several times a day.
    • Sip hot drinks: Hot drinks, like herbal teas, can help reduce pain. Avoid making the liquid too hot, otherwise, it may burn your throat.
    • Take a hot shower: The steam from a hot shower can help reduce any inflammation that causes painful swallowing.

    Frequently Asked Questions:

  • Dysphagia and odynophagia are common disorders encountered by primary care doctors. Dysphagia is the abnormal transit of solids or fluids, while odynophagia is a pain when swallowing. Dysphagia is not a mild process and can cause dehydration, aspiration, nutritional deficiencies, or airway obstruction.
  • Strep throat, epiglottitis, and esophagitis are potential causes of pain when swallowing. Throat infections are a common cause of pain during swallowing. These include strep throat, which is an infection with strep bacteria.
  • Esophagitis has a number of possible causes, including acid reflux, infections, allergies, and reactions to certain medications. Not only would you have pain when swallowing, but you could also have difficulty swallowing, food could get stuck in your esophagus, or you could have heartburn.
  • Herbal tea is the best way to soothe my esophagus. Chamomile, licorice, slippery elm, and marshmallow may make better herbal remedies to soothe symptoms of GERD. Licorice helps to increase the mucus layer of the esophageal lining, which helps calm the effects of stomach acid.
  • Citations:

  • Acute HIV Infection Presenting With Painful Swallowing and Esophageal Ulcers -
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