Why You Should Never Ignore Pain While Swallowing

Most people take swallowing for granted. Not only is it an automatic response while you’re eating, you swallow saliva frequently throughout the day. Most people also know the feeling of swallowing difficulties that accompany sore throats when they’re ill. This may be a problem only every few years, and after some time and many throat lozenges, they’re good to go until the next time a virus hits.

However, not all sore throats cause swallowing issues, and not all swallowing issues stem from common conditions. While chances are good that your swallowing problems won’t be serious, there are some situations where this symptom could point to a major health issue that brings potentially dangerous complications.

The doctors at Lawrence Otolaryngology Associates specialize in disorders of the throat, so they’re your first choice for consultation when you experience pain when you swallow. The practice is open with modified measures in place to assure patient safety through the COVID-19 pandemic, including telemedicine services. There’s no reason to ignore pain while swallowing.

The anatomy of swallowing

The journey from mouth to stomach isn’t long in physical distance, but it involves several systems. The process includes chewing, moving food to the back of your mouth and then down your throat to the stomach. Pain at any point could make swallowing difficult.

Throat problems

Most swallowing difficulties start in the throat, and these could be due to respiratory infections like the common cold, but bacteria and fungi can also infect the area. Strep throat is bacterial, and thrush stems from a yeast infection arising from overproduction of a fungus called candida, which normally resides in your mouth in small quantities.

Infections generally need antibiotic or antifungal medications to clear up. Though rare, infections can spread to other parts of the body, creating serious complications.

Esophagus issues

Any condition that irritates the esophagus has the potential to cause pain when you swallow. Perhaps the most common of these is acid reflux. A single episode isn’t likely to affect swallowing for long, but if you have the chronic condition called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), there’s a higher risk of long-lasting swallowing problems too. 

Other esophagus issues that cause pain while swallowing include:

When to see a doctor

If you have no idea why you’re experiencing swallowing pain, a call to Lawrence Otolaryngology Associates is your first action. Your doctor will ask you about accompanying symptoms, such as:

If you notice any of these symptoms occurring when you have swallowing problems, be sure to share them with your physician, particularly if you have a telemedicine consultation.

Contact Lawrence Otolaryngology Associates by phone at the Lawrence or Ottawa, Kansas, office whenever swallowing causes you pain. You can also send a message to the team here on the website. Painful swallowing is a condition that may be too important to overlook, so call today.

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