Dysphagia is the medical term for the symptom of difficulty in swallowing. Although classified under "symptoms and signs" in ICD-10, the term is sometimes used as a condition in its own right. Sufferers are sometimes unaware of their dysphagia.
It is derived from the Greek ''dys'' meaning bad or disordered, and ''phago'' meaning "eat". It is a sensation that suggests difficulty in the passage of solids or liquids from the mouth to the stomach. Dysphagia is distinguished from other symptoms including odynophagia, which is defined as painful swallowing, and globus, which is the sensation of a lump in the throat. A psychogenic dysphagia is known as phagophobia.
It is also worthwhile to refer to the physiology of swallowing in understanding dysphagia.
Swallowing disorders can occur in all age groups, resulting from congenital abnormalities, structural damage, and/or medical conditions. in patients who have had strokes, and in patients who are admitted to acute care hospitals or chronic care facilities.
Dysphagia is a symptom of many different causes, which can usually be elicited by a careful history by the treating physician. A formal oropharyngeal dysphagia evaluation is performed by a speech-language pathologist.
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