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Heartburn and Trouble With Swallowing

Occasional problems with swallowing happen to many people. Eating too fast, trying to swallow large pieces of food, or talking while eating may cause problems with swallowing. If you feel nervous or anxious, you may have a feeling of fullness in your throat and a sense of not being able to swallow normally.

Trouble with swallowing (dysphagia) occurs when food does not pass normally from the mouth through the esophagus to the stomach. This may allow some of the stomach juices to flow back into the esophagus, which causes a burning sensation or feelings of heartburn.

Dysphagia may occur because of problems with the mouth, tongue, or teeth that interfere with the normal process of chewing and swallowing. You may drool, spill food out of your mouth, or have a very dry mouth. You may feel like your food is catching in your throat or you may feel as if you need to swallow repeatedly just to get the food to go down. This could cause you to cough or feel as if you are choking.

Trouble with swallowing may also be caused by a narrowing or blockage of the esophagus. The muscles that are needed to move food or fluids through the esophagus may not be working correctly. Trouble swallowing that occurs with weight loss may be a sign of a more serious problem, such as cancer of the esophagus.

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine
Last Revised July 11, 2011

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