What are the causes of dysphagia?

When we talk about dysphagia we are referring to a upheaval that hinders the ingestion of food and water. The sensation is similar to that of having the throat completely stiff and can cause the occasional nausea if we force ourselves to swallow.

This problem that some people suffer has a series of causes, as well as consequences that it is important that we know. Next, we will discover what it is that makes this disorder appear and how can we reduce its impact.

The causes of dysphagia

As indicated in the article Dysphagia and nutritional status in institutionalized elderly This disorder is considered, also, as a geriatric syndrome because it has a special prevalence among the elderly. Let's see some of its possible causes:

  • Neurological disorders: some diseases such as multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy or Parkinson's disease, among others, can cause dysphagia. This is because the muscles involved in swallowing do not work properly.
  • Cancer: one of the symptoms that can alert of throat cancer is the difficulty to swallow. However, also undergoing treatments such as radiotherapy or chemotherapy can have this consequence.
  • Gastroesophageal reflux: suffering from frequent reflux can cause lesions in the esophagus that heal and cause a narrowing.
  • Strange bodies: sometimes the dysphagia has to do with objects that are stuck in the throat. A piece of meat that has not been chewed properly or the lack of teeth that can cause this difficulty can be some of the causes of dysphagia.

These are just some of the possible causes of dysphagia. Well, there are others that can also cause this symptomatology. For example, the achalasia that occurs because the esophageal muscle does not relax. What consequences can this have?

Consequences of dysphagia

As we have already seen, dysphagia affects an age group that is at serious risk. Therefore, it is important that we pay attention and go to the doctor before any problem when swallowing. In case of not doing so, these are some of the problems that we can suffer.

To talk about the consequences of dysphagia we will rely on an article entitled Consequences and treatment of dysphagia. In it, too, they advance some treatment options that exist today.


When an older person suffers from dysphagia, and can not consume food or water, they may end up suffering from severe malnutrition. In fact, the problem can be so serious that the person can not swallow his own saliva either.

In these cases It is recommended to modify the diet and take oral supplements. Also, a resource to avoid malnutrition is to use the tube so that the person can receive the food they need.

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Respiratory problems

This second consequence arises at the moment when, involuntarily, a piece of food that goes directly into the respiratory tract is aspirated. This can prevent the person from breathing causing a respiratory failure.

Also, this can lead to aspiration pneumonitis and aspiration pneumonia. These are quite serious situations that must be treated urgently because they pose a great risk to the life of the elderly patient.

To treat respiratory problems that may arise the best is prevention. For this, compensatory maneuvers can be put into practice to reduce aspiration and the risk that some food will obstruct the suction passages.

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Issues to take into account

In addition to all this, there are some issues that it is important to keep in mind when dealing with a person suffering from dysphagia. The main thing is that you are in a quiet environment and avoid any distraction that can cause an aspiration. However, it is important to follow the specific indications indicated by the doctor.

If you have any of the symptoms that characterize dysphagia and you belong to a risk group do not hesitate to contact your doctor. He will perform the appropriate tests to verify the diagnosis and will give you a series of recommendations that you can begin to carry out.

Remember that prevention is the most important thing in these cases, although exercises can be performed to improve the action of swallowing food or drinks.