If you’re experiencing difficulty swallowing your food or drinks, it may mean one thing: dysphagia. On the other hand, if your condition involves pain or discomfort when swallowing, it might be odynophagia. Distinguishing between the two may become tricky if the symptoms of both conditions are present.
For instance, if food clings to the soft tissues in the esophagus, it may result in a painful sensation. Will this fall under the category of dysphagia or is it odynophagia? A disorder in the swallowing tube may result in discomfort, but this is still considered dysphagia – although some people may think what they have is odynophagia.
Dysphagia may range from mild to serious. In mild cases, the patient may experience swallowing problems for about a minute or two. As a result, the patient may need to stop eating briefly or take a few sips of water until the condition goes away.
On the other hand, severe dysphagia may cause the patient to stop eating completely. As a result, there is malnutrition, leading to abrupt weight loss.
Dysphagia mainly involves the lower throat area, particularly within the muscles and nerves that control the movement or function of the throat. This condition can lead to abnormalities in the functions. Due to these irregularities, food may enter the lungs through the airways, which may result in aspiration pneumonia. As more food enters, complications may arise as food sticks further down in the esophagus.
When you feel difficulty or discomfort when swallowing, seek medical help as soon as possible.