ENT Head & Neck Surgery Center

Rm 02, 5/F., Kai Seng Commerical Centre,
4-6 Hankow Road, TST Kln, HK
(near Kowloon Hotel)
Tel: (852) 3100 0555
Fax: (852) 3100 0556

Lawrence Chow / ENT Doctor

Difficulty Swallowing: What Can I Do?

Difficulty Swallowing: What Can I Do?


Difficulty swallowing is medically referred to as dysphagia. It often indicates a problem in your throat or your esophagus. This condition is most common in older adults and babies, as well as in individuals with a nervous system disorder. There are many reasons why people have difficulty swallowing. Some are harmless and others require medical attention. If you only experience it once or twice, then it probably doesn’t merit a visit to the ENT doctor. But if you experience it frequently, it may mean you have a serious problem and you should see an ENT doctor as soon as possible.




Usually, the muscles found in the throat and esophagus contract in order to push food and liquids to your stomach. But at times, this may be more difficult because…


  • The muscles that are responsible for moving food are not working properly due to injury of the spinal cord or stroke.
  • You may have multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s disease, or any problem affecting the nervous system.
  • You have an immune system problem such as swelling and weakness as in the case of polymyositis.
  • You may have esophageal spasm wherein your esophagus suddenly squeezes and tightens.
  • You may have GERD causing ulcers in the esophagus and making it narrower.
  • You may also have inflammation in the esophagus known as esophagitis.



Symptoms of Dysphagia


Dysphagia can be mild or severe; it may come and go or sometimes it may worsen over time. Common symptoms include:


  • Having problems pushing food and liquids inside.
  • Choking or coughing when you swallow.
  • Having food or liquids come back up after swallowing.
  • Sensation of something stuck in the throat or chest.
  • Pain when swallowing.
  • Pain or heartburn in the chest.
  • Weight loss




The treatment of dysphagia will depend on the cause. Here are some of them:


  • Exercise. These focus on the muscles in the throat and esophagus.
  • Changing your diet. Some foods and liquids are easier to swallow.
  • Dilation. A device is placed inside your esophagus to expand areas that are narrow.
  • Endoscopy. A long, thin scope is used to remove whatever is stuck in your esophagus.
  • Surgery. If there is blockage in your esophagus (such as a tumor), you may need surgery.
  • Medicines. If you have GERD related dysphagia or esophagitis, prescription medicines prevent stomach acids from entering the esophagus. Infections are also treated with antibiotic medicines.


Generally speaking, anyone suffering from difficulty swallowing should see their ENT doctor. This is particularly true if the condition doesn’t get better or if it has been affecting you for a long period of time. Your doctor can determine the cause of your dysphagia and provide the appropriate treatment. Some cases are harmless but you can never be too sure. If you frequently have difficulty swallowing, please see your ENT doctor.




HK ENT Specialist Ltd.

Hong Kong based ENT clinic centre

For ENT Services, Audiology & Speech Therapy,

Sleep Disordered Breathing Management,

Hearing Aid Prescription & Medical Cosmetic Services


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