A view of the laryngeal vestibule as seen through an endoscope.

What is dysphagia?

Dysphagia is the medical term for swallowing impairment, or difficulty moving foods and/or drinks from one's mouth into the stomach. Problems can arise inside the mouth, throat, or esophagus (food tube), and can greatly affect a patient's quality of life.

Below are common symptoms associated with dysphagia:

  • Difficulty chewing

  • Trouble initiating or starting a swallow

  • Feeling something "stuck" in the throat

  • Coughing/clearing the throat when eating

  • Pain during swallowing (also called odynophagia)

  • Holding foods/liquids in the mouth

  • Episodes of pneumonia

  • Foods/liquids coming back up after being swallowing

  • Decreased appetite

  • Decreased amount of foods/liquids eaten

A view of the larynx after a swallow, showing residue, laryngeal penetration, and aspiration.

What is aspiration?

Aspiration occurs when foods or liquids pass below the vocal folds (cords) and enters the airway, usually eliciting a cough or clearing of the throat. Silent aspiration occurs when there is no response to the airway infiltration. Aspiration can be associated with pneumonia and other serious respiratory complications and can lengthen hospitalizations and drive up medical costs.​

© 2019 by Arizona Swallowing & Voice Diagnostics, LLC.