Facebook Twitter instagram Youtube

Types of dysphagia: Exploring Swallowing Issues and their Implications

We encounter complex and hidden diseases on a seemingly daily basis, and one of the most common ones amongst them is Dysphagia. Commonly referred to as the disease that makes swallowing difficult, Dysphagia can be caused due to several factors, the types of dysphagia can vary widely, and the necessary treatments are relevantly based on the multitude of causes. Nih.gov reported in 2019 that dysphagia can be found in 2%-20% of the population, depending on the community to which they belonged globally.


One of the first issues that we encounter when it comes to diagnosing dysphagia is identifying it. Since the initial symptoms are close to what we expect from sore throats, patients fail to identify the threats. Treating dysphagia calls for expertise, equipment, and extensive care. Usually, people above the age of 60 are prone to contracting dysphagia, but younger age groups continue to face the threat as well.


In this blog, we will be taking a brief look at everything that you need to know about dysphagia, the symptoms that it shows, the various types of dysphagia that are out there, the causes, and how we can treat them effectively. So, let’s get started. 


So, what is dysphagia? 


People may experience difficulty or painful agony when it comes to swallowing food, drinks, and water. The definition of dysphagia is limited to this exact phenomenon, but what makes it interesting is the variation that we witness when it comes to this disease. 


Swallowing problems can be caused by a wide range of causes, but some of the riskier ones are blockages, neurological and mental breakdown, the narrowing of the esophagus, etc. If not treated carefully and on a timely basis, the risks may be deadly. Now, let us take a look at the different variations of dysphagia that we encounter. 


Oropharyngeal Dysphagia:


In humans, it is a voluntary action that sends chewed food from the oral cavity to the esophagus through the pharynx. For someone who’s suffering from this form of dysphagia, the swallow reflex would be extremely difficult. The sensation of food sticking to the walls of the oral cavity or the esophagus is one of the primary symptoms that can indicate this form of dysphagia. Moreover, pulmonary aspiration is a potential symptom as well. 


The esophageal sphincter is to blame in this case, and without it working in a coordinated manner, oropharyngeal dysphagia can prove to be a reality. 


Esophageal dysphagia:


The tract through which the food passes is called the esophagus, resulting in esophageal dysphagia. As far as swallowing problems go, this can prove to be pretty complicated to treat as aren’t familiar with how esophageal movement works, but in most cases, it is an obstruction that causes this handicap. 


Esophageal blockages and obstructions can be easily treated with the amount of medical expertise we possess at this age.


Esophagogastric dysphagia:


In affected cases, the food may find it difficult to travel from the lower esophagus into the gastric fundus, with the probable causes being motor issues or obstructions in the passage. As we have already seen in the case of oropharyngeal dysphagia, the food particles and pieces seem to stick to the walls, thereby making swallowing harder. This causes a restriction in the overall flow of food and nutrients, thereby weakening the body in the process. 


Paraoesophageal dysphagia:


The final form of dysphagia is caused when there’s a physical blockage present on the esophageal walls and lumen. In certain cases, there may be an infiltration of the esophageal walls as well. 


Primarily, the aforementioned four are the different forms of dysphagia that we know about, but the main complexity arises from the fact that there’s a plethora of factors that may result in dysphagia or swallowing problems in an individual. Some of the primary factors that cause this rather painful medical condition.

  • Nervous system breakdowns- Various medical conditions like sclerosis, strokes, Parkinson’s disease, etc. can lead to damage or partial incapacitation of the brain or the nervous system, thereby creating swallowing difficulties in the process as well. This proves to be one of the most difficult causes to address when it comes to dysphagia.

  • Muscular conditions- Certain muscle-related conditions like myasthenia gravis and muscular dystrophy play a significantly negative role when it comes to dysphagia. Moreover, ailments like achalasia, scleroderma, and spasms affect the esophagus directly, resulting in acute swallowing difficulties. 

  • Narrowing and blockages- The chances of the esophagus getting blocked are pretty high due to its structure, but in most cases, bodily functions and mechanisms prevent that from happening. Esophageal cancer, Schatzki Rings, Cricopharyngeal Hypertrophy, etc. are medical conditions of the esophagus that might lead to it becoming blocked up or jammed. 

  • Acid reflux scarring- Diseases like GERD can result in the presence of scar tissues in the esophagus, something that can cause extreme discomfort, irritation, and an overall reduction of essential swallow reflex

  • Throat infections- Besides the aforementioned causes, the advent of dysphagia can be caused by relatively common ailments like tonsillitis as well. These are relatively easier to treat when compared to the other causes in this list.


The symptoms that are exhibited by dysphagia can be easily confused for illnesses like sore throats, acidity, etc. and thus, it is essential that we tackle them with the utmost care and urgency. Some of the primary signs that may signal its onset are difficulty in swallowing, coughing and choking tendencies while dining, the return of consumed food through the nasal tract and nostrils, excessive drooling, etc.

Dysphagia may lead to a reduction in the overall level of calorie consumption, leading to malnutrition and weakness.


Treatment and cure: 


Since dysphagia is a disease that is caused by a wide variety of factors, the treatment and cure would depend on the particular symptom of dysphagia that’s being exhibited after a proper diagnosis has been carried out. Some of the common measures adopted to tackle this illness are as follows. Averagely, dysphagia can be remedied within a month but this is a figure that heavily depends on the diagnosis results.


  • Neurological treatment and remediation. 


  • swallowing Rehabilitation & diet modification can help in adopting modified swallowing methodologies. 


  • Alternate feeding methods include nasogastric tubes and PEG tubes.


  • The usage of a stent can act as a potent remedy in certain cases as well.

Final take:


Dysphagia is a complex ailment that can give rise to a number of swallowing problems. It is the symptoms and diagnosis that would determine the best course of action that is to be followed. At Medanta, we employ the best methodologies and treatment protocols to remedy Dysphagia effectively and efficiently. Get in touch with us today to heal yourself like never before.


Karpuram Govathi Nikhila
Cancer Care
Meet The Doctor
Back to top