Dysphagia is classified into different types, depending on the area or phase of the swallow that is altered, the type of food or drink that affects swallowing, or the factor that causes it. Knowing the type of dysphagia is essential as it affects the type of treatment needed.



Dysphagia types depending on the area or phase of swallowing affected


The name indicates the location of the alteration: oral and pharyngeal region (throat).
It occurs when there is difficulty in initiating swallowing and/ or to propel the food bolus from the mouth to the entrance to the esophagus.
It commonly presents as a difficulty in swallowing food, or a sensation that food is stuck at the base of your throat, causing you to clear you throat often. 

Types dysphagia_Central1 (1)
Dysphagia_Central2 types (1)

The name indicates that the swallowing phase is altered at the esophagus.
The food bolus is able to reach the esophagus, but there is a difficulty in pushing it into the stomach.
This commonly presents itself as a feeling of food being stuck in the chest area. 

Dysphagia_Central3 types (1)


Dysphagia according to the type of food or beverage that is difficult to swallow


Occurs when there is difficulty in swallowing solid foods, and often require crushing of food into a puree before consumption.

Occurs when there is difficulty in ingesting liquids, such as water, milk, juices or broths, which often cause the patient to cough, or even causes the passage of liquid into the respiratory tract.

Dysphagia_Central5 types (1)

Difficulty drinking liquids and eating solid foods.


Dysphagia by cause


Difficulty in swallowing can occur with both solid and liquid food and is usually due to an alteration in the functions of the swallowing mechanisms, where the brain does not send the signals to the throat muscles to carry out the necessary actions for swallowing. This type of dysphagia is usually associated with neurological diseases and aging.

Dysphagia_Central7 types (1)


Difficulty in swallowing is usually due to the fact that the food bolus is larger than the space of the esophagus. Therefore, this disorder usually occurs when swallowing solid foods. In very severe cases, where the lumen of the esophagus becomes very narrow, it can also affect the swallowing of liquids.

Ask yourself...


  • Where do you feel your food is clogged when you eat?
  • What foods do you have difficulty swallowing?
  • Do you have to clear your throat often after eating?

Consult a health professional if you exhibit any signs that may suggest the presence swallowing problem, in order for accurate assessment of the type of dysphagia. 

Recommended bibliography:
  • Clavé Civit P, García Peris P. Guide to nutritional diagnosis and treatment and rehabilitation of oropharyngeal dysphagia. Ed. Glosa, 2011
  • Cicero J et al. Stepping Stones to Living Well with Dysphagia. Nestlé Nutrition Institute Workshop Series, Vol. 72. KARGER 2012.