Swollen Throat And Difficulty In Swallowing

Swollen Throat And Difficulty In Swallowing: Causes, Treatment

Difficulty in swallowing can affect your food and fluid intake. So, you may not feel like having food. The problem also put you at risk of choking on the liquid or food when you try to swallow. You can experience the problem with swallowing along with a swollen throat. The inability to swallow is also known as dysphagia. It is the medical term associated with the trouble in swallowing. In most cases, the problem can solve on its own without any medical assistance. But, some severe health complication can also lead to the problem. Therefore, it is better to take advice from your doctor to avoid the complications.

How Do You Swallow?

Your body has fifty pairs of muscle that help with swallowing food or liquid. So, several things can go wrong leading to a swollen throat and difficulty in swallowing. Swallowing occurs in four major phases namely:

  • Oral preparatory phase
  • Oral phase
  • Pharyngeal phase
  • Esophageal phase

Difficulty in swallowing can occur in two categories like oropharyngeal, where you face problem in the three of the above-mentioned phases collectively known as oropharyngeal. It can also occur with problems in the esophageal phase.


The problems with the nerves and muscles in the throat can result in the condition. The underlying health issue can weaken the muscles. So, it makes it difficult for you to swallow without gagging or choking. The main health problems affecting the nervous system and subsequently the throat muscles are:

The obstruction in the upper throat region, pharynx, as well as the pharyngeal pouches (that collects food) can also trigger the problem.

Esophageal Phase

The difficulty in swallowing can occur in the esophageal phase. It feels as if something is stuck in your throat. So, the problem can occur due to the following reasons:

  • The intermittent narrowing of your esophageal ring can result in the tightness of the lower esophagus.
  • Growths or scarring on the esophagus resulting in its narrowing.
  • The presence of external bodies in the esophagus or throat.
  • Experiencing spasms in the lower part of the esophagus.
  • Inflammation or GERD leading to the narrowing or swelling of the esophagus.
  • Post-radiation treatment or chronic inflammation leading to scar tissue formation in the esophagus.

What Diseases/Problems Causes Difficulty In Swallowing?

Difficulty in swallowing The conditions that can result in the swollen throat and problems with swallowing problems are:

Acid reflux

The acid reflux can result in burping, stomach pain, heartburn, and trouble in swallowing. It is caused by the flowing of the stomach contents into the esophagus from the stomach. It is not a serious condition as you can resolve it at home. Avoiding the food triggering the issue can provide you relief.


As the name suggests, you can feel the burning sensation in the chest region. It can leave a bitter taste in your throat as well as the mouth. It is mostly a temporary condition triggering from the food you consume. So, you can overcome it by changing your diet.



The problem can result in swollen throat and difficulty in swallowing. It is triggering by the inflammation of the epiglottitis tissue. It is a medical emergency that needs immediate attention from professional doctors. Failure to seek treatment can harm your life.



It is the condition characterized by the swollen throat. The problem can increase the size of the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland is situated just below Adam’s apple. So, it can affect your food intake as you cannot swallow properly.


Certain mediations of acid reflux can lead to esophagus inflammation. The esophagus is the tube that helps send the food you consume into the stomach. Viral or bacterial infections can also trigger the condition. Therefore, it can result in the problem with swallowing the food or liquid.

Esophageal Cancer

The cancerous presence on the esophagus lining can result in a swallowing problem. The malignant tumor can affect your food consumption. It also triggers severe health complications. Therefore, you need to seek medical treatment for the condition as soon as possible to prevent fatal side-effects.



You have two lymph nodes that act as the defense mechanism against the infections. It is located on the two sides of the back of the throat area. It is known as the tonsils. Many people suffer from the infection of tonsils. Therefore, the condition referred to as tonsillitis can cause swelling, inflammation, and problem with swallowing.

Stomach Cancer

Stomach Cancer

The cancerous cells can form in the stomach lining leading to gastric adenocarcinoma. In most cases, you may not realize the presence of the issue. So, it gets detected once it reaches the advanced stage. The advanced stage of cancer can trigger several issues including trouble swallowing.

Herpes Esophagitis

It is the viral infection developing in the esophagus region. Herpes simplex virus (HSV-1) can result in several discomforts. You can experience trouble while eating or swallowing the food or fluid. It can also trigger chest pain.

Recurrent Herpes Simplex Labialis

Also known as oral herpes, the infection can affect your mouth and throat region. The herpes simplex virus can trigger the infection.

Thyroid Nodule

As the name suggests a nodule can develop in the thyroid gland. It is a lump that either has a solid structure or has fluid in it. So, the single or cluster of nodules can lead to problems in swallowing food or fluids. The benign lumps can never put your health in danger. But, causes distress due to the location.

Infectious Mononucleosis

Infectious Mononucleosis

It is also known as the kissing disease as the problem spreads through saliva. The EBV (Epstein – Barr virus) can affect you leading to swollen lymph nodes and sore throat. So, you feel swelling in your throat region. It also results in a swallowing problem.

Allergic Reaction

The allergic reaction from food, external objects or snake bite can trigger adverse effects on your body. The allergic reaction or infection can lead to swelling in your throat. The problem can also trigger several issues. So, you need to contact your doctor immediately to get

Symptoms Associated With Difficulty In Swallowing

The first issue associated with the problem is the trouble you have swallowing food or fluids. But, it may also accompany other signs. Depending on the underlying issue, you may experience other symptoms like:

  • A sore throat
  • Tender throat
  • Bad breath
  • Drooling
  • Hoarse voice
  • Coughing while swallowing food
  • Choking on food or fluid
  • The feeling of something lodged in the throat
  • Agony or pain when swallowing something
  • Unexpected Weight loss
  • Malnutrition
  • Heartburn
  • Regurgitation
  • Difficulty consuming solid food

The above-mentioned symptoms may vary in severity depending on the issue you experience. Therefore, you may avoid food altogether. It is due to the discomfort associated with eating the food. So, you may skip food or lose your appetite. It can result in severe malnutrition and dehydration. It needs immediate medical attention. Your doctor can diagnose the underlying problem precisely to develop a proper treatment plan.

Difficulty In Swallowing Diagnosis

Once you experience the swelling and problem swallowing, you need to see a doctor. The doctor can perform the proper diagnosis with the following methods:

Physical Examination

Your doctors check the oral cavity. It helps the doctor detect any swelling or other problems. It helps to detect inflammation or infection. You also need to explain the symptoms you suffer due to the issue. So, it helps the doctor come to a conclusive diagnosis. For making a conclusive analysis, the doctor can order further tests.

Barium X-ray

It is one of the specialized tests that detect the abnormalities in your esophagus. So, the test can check for the blockages or other problems. The test involves swallowing a pill containing the dye or liquid. The x-rays taken of your abdomen shows the functions of your esophagus while you swallow the pill/liquid. Therefore, it reveals the abnormalities or weaknesses resulting in the issue.

Videofluoroscopic Exam

Videofluoroscopic Exam

It is the evaluation conducting while you swallow that shows the oral, pharyngeal, and your esophageal phases. So, your speech-language pathologist conducts the radiologic examination that evaluates the swallowing. It uses special x-ray known as fluoroscopy to detect the swallowing using food of various consistencies. You need to consume solid, thin or thickened liquid to detect the ingestion of the liquid as well as food into your trachea. Therefore, the test can provide information on muscle weakness and dysfunction.


Using a thin flexible tube with a camera, your doctor can check all the areas of your esophagus. The camera lowered through your mouth or nose can help see the esophagus completely. So, your doctor can come to a proper conclusion.


It is another invasive test like the endoscopy. It can check the inside area of the throat. So, using the test, your doctor detects the pressure in the throat muscle while you swallow. The test involves inserting a tube in the esophagus. It can measure the pressure in the muscles when it contracts.

Treating Difficulty In Swallowing

Swollen throat and difficulty in swallowing can happen due to small or severe problems. Ignoring it can prevent you from consuming food and fluids. So, it can lead to malnutrition as you do not get enough nourishment for your body. The swallowing problem can also lead to dehydration. Severe swallowing issues can trigger aspiration pneumonia and recurrent respiratory infection in very young or older people. Therefore, it can result in life-threatening conditions. How can you deal with the problem? You need to see your doctor immediately once you experience the issue. Even if it is a small problem, never ignore it. Depending on the diagnosis, your doctor can prescribe the following treatment options.


At times, the swollen throat and subsequent trouble with swallowing occur due to the bacterial or viral infection. So, your doctor can treat the condition using antibiotics. Depending on the cause of infection, your doctor prescribes the medication. You need to take it as per the directions of the doctor to get relief.

Anti-Allergic Medications

Allergy triggered due to food or other foreign substance can cause irritation and trouble in swallowing food. You can also see swelling of the throat. Therefore, get treatment to overcome the problem. The anti-allergic medication eases the symptoms and offers you relief.

Acid Reflux

Acid reflux is not a serious problem, but it causes severe discomfort. Therefore, seek your doctor’s assistance to overcome the problem. Your doctor provides medications to treat the problem. Along with the medicines, you also need to modify your diet to prevent the issue. In most cases, your doctor suggests a reflux diet to prevent the issue.

Dysphagia Treatment

The swallowing problems triggered due to the problems in the throat muscles need immediate treatment. So, you need to consult your doctor immediately to get valuable tips. The doctor can recommend the following:

  • Swallowing exercises to strengthen the muscles in the throat section
  • Strategies to ensure proper swallowing
  • Postural modification while eating

Remedy For Tightened Esophagus

A tightened esophagus can make it difficult to swallow food properly. Therefore, your healthcare provider suggests the method known as esophageal dilation. It expands the esophagus and prevents obstruction of food or fluid. The method makes use of a small balloon. It is placed in your esophagus to widen it. After the procedure, your doctor removes the balloon.

Invasive Surgery For Abnormal Growths

The abnormal growths in the esophagus, thyroid or the other tissues in the throat needs removal depending on its severity. So, using the invasive surgical procedure, your doctor removes the cancerous or non-cancerous growths. In some cases, your doctor also adopts the surgery to eliminate the scar tissue that obstructs proper food consumption.

Diet Modification

In some cases, the doctor can suggest modifying your diet completely to prevent the malnutrition and dehydration due to the swallowing problems. Some severe problems in the throat muscles make it difficult to eat or drink. In such cases, you need medical care. In the hospital, you get food and water through the feeding tube. To avoid such severe circumstances, your doctor can suggest diet modification. Therefore, eliminates the need to provide you food through the feeding tube as you can eat and food normally.

Home Care Tips To Overcome Difficulty In Swallowing

If simple issues like small infection lead to the swollen throat and difficulty in swallowing, then you can follow some home remedies. It will ease the discomfort associated with the issue. You can get relief without any hassles. But, remember you need to consult your doctor to evaluate the seriousness of your condition before adopting any home care remedies. Serious complications need immediate medical treatment. Therefore, try not to cure the problem on your own without medical assistance. The steps to relieve a sore throat are:


Drinking plenty of water or fluids can ease swallowing difficulty. You can drink warm fluids to provide relief to your throat muscles. Herbal teas or warm water with honey can also provide relief from throat problems.


Whenever you feel soreness in your throat or find it difficult to swallow, you can gargle with warm saltwater. The anti-bacterial properties in the salt can fight the infection leading to the swollen throat and problems with swallowing. Mix half to one teaspoon of salt in one cup of warm water and gargle. You can repeat the procedure several times during a day to get relief.

Rest Your Throat

At times, the muscles in your throat can feel the strain. It leads to swelling and swallowing issues. Therefore, provide rest to your throat. You need to avoid talking, singing, or raising your voice as it can worsen the condition. So, rest your voice till you get relief from the problem.

Throat Lozenges

Throat Lozenges

Throat lozenges are home remedies for a sore throat caused due to infections in the upper respiratory tract or the common cold. The infection often causes you pain and discomfort while swallowing. So, you can ease the pain by using lozenges. You can easily buy the lozenges over-the-counter. You have sucked and dissolve it in your mouth to ease the irritation. It lubricates the throat lining when you activate the ingredients in them by producing saliva. So, it reduces the dryness, pain, and itchiness you experience.

Moisten Air

A dry throat can cause trouble while swallowing. So, you can prevent it by using a humidifier at home. It moistens the air that you breathe. So, it keeps the nose and throat moistened and reduces the dryness.

Avoid Smoke Inhalation

Inhaling smoke can irritate your throat and worsen the condition. Therefore, try to avoid smoke inhalation to prevent the allergic reaction or inflammation of the throat.


It is necessary to get a consultation with a medical professional to check your swollen throat and difficulty in swallowing. Your underlying issues may vary from simple to serious. Depending on the diagnosis, your doctor can suggest apt treatment. Getting advice from medical professionals can help you ease your mind and prevent further complications. Therefore, the right guidance from the medical professional can improve your symptoms with ease.

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