• Oropharyngeal Dysphagia

    (Dysphagia, Oropharyngeal; Difficulty Swallowing [Mouth or Pharynx])


    Dysphagia happens when there are problems with the swallowing process. Oropharyngeal dysphagia occurs when there are problems with the swallowing process that happen in the mouth and the pharynx. The pharynx is the part of the throat behind the mouth
    Mouth and Throat
    Dry Mouth and Throat
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.


    Oropharyngeal dysphagia may be caused by:

    Risk Factors

    Risk factors include:
    • Having a neurological condition
    • Muscle disease
    • Increased age
    • Being born prematurely
    • Cancer
    • Cancer treatment
    • Throat and neck infections


    Symptoms include:
    • Difficulty starting the swallowing process to move food or liquid from the mouth to the pharynx—liquid may be harder to swallow than food
    • A sensation that food is stuck in the throat
    • Regurgitation
    • Drooling, coughing, choking
    • Weight loss, malnutrition, and dehydration due to problems with eating and drinking


    You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
    Tests will be done to assess your swallowing function. These may include:
    • Swallowing test to observe what happens when you swallow
    • Videofluorographic swallowing study (VFSS)
    Your throat may need to be viewed. This can be done with:
    Your esophageal muscles may be tested. This can be done with an esophageal manometry test.


    You and your doctor will work together to find a treatment that is right for you. Treatment will depend on the underlying cause of the condition. You may need to work with a specialist. The specialist can teach you how to improve your swallowing. There are exercises and techniques that you can learn. Your doctor may also recommend that you make changes to your diet. For example, you may need to eat food and liquid of a certain kind of consistency.


    You can reduce your risk of oropharyngeal dysphagia by getting proper treatment for any related conditions.


    American Speech-Language-Hearing Association http://www.asha.org

    Dysphagia Research Society http://www.dysphagiaresearch.org


    Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada http://www.heartandstroke.com

    Ontario Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologist https://www.osla.on.ca


    Swallowing Disorders (Dysphagia) in Adults. American-Speech-Language-Hearing Association website. Available at: http://www.asha.org/public/speech/swallowing/Swallowing-Disorders-in-Adults/. Accessed May 3, 2016.

    Dysphagia. Cedars-Sinai website. Available at: http://www.cedars-sinai.edu/Patients/Health-Conditions/Dysphagia.aspx. Accessed May 3, 2016.

    Dysphagia. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/. Updated April 2, 2015. Accessed May 3, 2016.

    Dysphagia. World Gastroenterology Organisation website. Available at: http://www.worldgastroenterology.org/assets/downloads/en/pdf/guidelines/08%5Fdysphagia.pdf. Published 2007. Accessed May 3, 2016.

    Huckabee M. Application of EMG biofeedback in the treatment of oral pharyngeal dysphagia. Biofeedback Foundation of Europe website. Available at: http://www.bfe.org/protocol/pro06eng.htm. Published 1997. Accessed May 3, 2016.

    Restive D, Marchese-Ragona R, Lauria G, Squatrito S, Gullo D, Vigneri R. Botulinum toxin treatment for oropharyngeal dysphagia associated with diabetic neuropathy. Diabetes Care. 2006 Dec;29(12):2650-3. Available at: http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/29/12/2650.short. Accessed May 3, 2016.

    Revision Information

  • LiveWell personal health survey

    How healthy are you really? Find out – free.Learn more

    It's time to stop guessing. If you want to make some changes but just aren't sure how, the free personal health survey from LiveWell is a great place to start.

  • HeartSHAPE Spotlight

    At risk for a heart attack? Learn more

    Fight heart disease and prevent heart attacks. HeartSHAPE® is a painless, non-invasive test that checks pictures of your heart for early-stage coronary disease.

  • Calories and Energy Needs

    Calorie NeedsLearn more

    How many calories do you need to eat each day to maintain your weight and fuel your physical activity? Enter a few of your stats into this calculator to find out.

  • Ideal Body Weight

    Ideal Body WeightLearn more

    Using body mass index as a reference, this calculator determines your ideal body weight range. All you need to do is enter your height.

  • Body Mass Index

    Body Mass IndexLearn more

    This tool considers your height and weight to assess your weight status.

  • Can we help answer your questions?

    Wellmont Nurse Connection is your resource for valuable health information any time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Speak to a Nurse any time, day or night, at (423) 723-6877 or toll-free at 1-877-230-NURSE.