Oropharyngeal dysphagia can be caused by multiple factors. In most cases, it is due to an acute or chronic disease that alters any of the phases involved in swallowing, or due to aging.

The main factors that causes swallowing difficulties in diseases are:

  • The obstruction, narrowing or inflammation of areas involved in the process of swallowing food which can interfere with and hinder the passage of food into the stomach. Cancers of the mouth, throat, and esophagus, as well as overgrowth of cervical bone tissue (bone outgrowths called osteophytes), may be responsible for these factors.
  • Side effects from some cancer treatments, such as:
    • Surgery that causes physical changes in the mouth and/ or throat area, and scars that make it difficult to swallow certain foods.
    • Radiotherapy and chemotherapy that causes dry mouth, ulcer or sores in the mouth and throat, infections and inflammation.
    • Medicines that treats both chronic and acute diseases.
  • Difficulty pushing the food bolus forward. This problem is usually due to a neurological and muscular disorder that affects the ability to perform coordinated movements that help push the bolus forward. Neurodegenerative diseases and other neurological and muscular diseases are the main culprits. The most frequent diseases are:
    • Alzheimer's disease
    • Stroke
    • Parkinson's disease
    • Multiple sclerosis
    • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
    • Brain damage and traumatic brain injuries

In all these cases the probability of experiencing a difficulty in swallowing increases. Consult a specialist for any signs that may suggest the presence of a problem swallowing food, in order to obtain an early diagnosis and treatment and prevent serious complications.

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