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

Possible Causes of Dysphagia

Doctors use the medical term dysphagia to refer to swallowing problems. This can mean having trouble swallowing certain drinks or food items, or being unable to swallow at all. It can be caused by any of the following underlying conditions:


Neurological Causes

If you suffer any damage to your nervous system (brain and spinal cord), this damage can interfere with the nerves involved in starting and controlling the swallowing movement. This type of damage can be caused by a stroke, brain tumors, or myasthenia gravis, which is a very uncommon condition that weakens muscles.

Some neurological conditions can do damage to the brain and nervous system over time. These conditions include dementia, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and motor neurone disease.



If there’s an obstruction in the throat or the esophagus becomes too narrow, swallowing can become much more difficult. This type of problem can be caused by some type of throat or mouth cancer like laryngeal cancer or esophageal cancer. When the cancer has been treated, often the obstruction disappears as well.

Infections, such as thrush or tuberculosis, can also cause inflammation of the esophagus that can lead to swallowing difficulties. This is also true of gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD), when your esophagus becomes narrower due to stomach acid causing scar tissue to develop.

Other conditions that can cause an obstruction include eosinophilic oesophagitis and pharyngeal (throat) pouches. When you have eosinophilic oesophagitis, your body reacts to certain allergens by building up a type of white blood cell in the lining of the esophagus. This buildup damages the esophagus lining and causes the swallowing difficulties. With throat pouches, your esophagus develops a large sack that reduces your ability to swallow.

Even radiotherapy can also cause an obstruction in the esophagus. The treatment can lead to scar tissue that can narrow the passageway in the throat.


Congenital and Developmental Conditions

Children can have problems with dysphagia if they’re born with a cleft lip and palate. Cerebral palsy can also affect the movement and coordination of the body parts needed for swallowing. Learning difficulties may also make it difficult for some children to learn to swallow.


Muscular Conditions

Though it’s rare, it’s also possible that a medical condition can affect the muscles needed to push down the food into the esophagus and into the stomach. Achalasia is one such muscular condition that’s sometimes associated with dysphagia. This condition causes the muscles in the esophagus to lose their ability to relax and open to let food through.

Another potential problem is scleroderma. This is when the immune system attacks healthy tissue. This can cause a stiffening of the muscles in the throat and esophagus, leading to problems with swallowing.


As the ENT problem is quite different from case to case, it is suggested to consult an ENT doctor for the appropriate ENT services and treatments.




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


註: 本站無論中文繁體,中文簡體和英文內容所提及的疾病和治療方法僅供讀者參考,並不代表本站推薦該種療法,亦不能代替專業醫生診治,讀者如有需要,應該尋求專業醫生意見或聯絡香港耳鼻喉專科。