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Throat anatomy
Throat anatomy


Definition:

Swallowing pain refers to a strong feeling of uncomfortable squeezing and burning while swallowing, which may be felt high in the neck or lower down behind the breastbone. Such pain may be a symptom of a serious disorder.

See also: Swallowing difficulty



Alternative Names:

Swallowing - pain or burning; Odynophagia; Burning feeling when swallowing



Considerations:

Swallowing is a complex act that involves the mouth, throat area, and esophagus (the tube that transports food to the stomach).

Problems at any point, from the mouth to the esophagus, can result in burning or intense pain with swallowing.

This may be accompanied by chest pain, the feeling that food is stuck in the throat, or heaviness or pressure in the neck or upper chest.



Common Causes:

Home Care:

Eat slowly and chew food thoroughly. If a person suddenly shows signs of choking and difficulty breathing, the Heimlich maneuver should be performed immediately.

You may have an easier time swallowing liquids or pureed foods than solids. Avoid very cold or very hot foods if you notice that they worsen the problem.



Call your health care provider if:

Call your provider if the problem continues, even if the symptoms come and go.

Tell your doctor about any other symptoms that go along with the painful swallowing, including:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Chills
  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Heartburn
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Sour taste in the mouth
  • Weight loss
  • Wheezing


What to expect at your health care provider's office:

The doctor will examine you and ask questions about your medical history and symptoms, including:

  • Do you have pain when swallowing solids, liquids, or both?
  • Is the pain constant or does it come and go?
  • Is the pain getting worse?
  • Do you have difficulty swallowing?
  • Do you have a sore throat?
  • Does it feel like there is a lump in the throat?
  • Have you inhaled or swallowed any irritating substances?
  • What other symptoms do you have?
  • What other medical problems do you have?
  • What medications do you take?

The following tests may be done:




Review Date: 11/13/2007
Reviewed By: Christian Stone, M.D., Division of Gastroenterology, Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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