Dysphagia, or difficulty swallowing, often is caused by a problem in the throat or esophagus.

This disorder is most common in premature babies, older adults and people with conditions that effect their nervous system.

Difficulty swallowing can occur if you have:

  • Something blocking your throat. For example:
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Inflammation of the esophagus (esophagitis)
  • Thin pieces of tissue sticking out from the walls of the esophagus (esophageal webs)
  • Small sacs in the walls of the esophagus (diverticula)
  • Esophageal tumors (cancerous or not-cancerous growths)
  • Lodged object or food
  • Lymph nodes, tumors, or bone spurs on the vertebrae
  • Weakening of the esophageal muscles as a result of aging
  • Unknown causes
  • A brain or spinal cord injury
  • Nervous system disorders, such multiple sclerosis or Parkinson's disease
  • A problem which causes swelling or weakness
  • Esophageal spasms
  • Scleroderma
If you have problems breathing because something is stuck in your throat or chest, call 911 immediately. If you have had difficulty swallowing for more than 1 week, call your doctor. Symptoms of dysphagia can be mild or severe, come and go or get worse over time. Your treatment will depend on what is causing your dysphagia