This site is intended for healthcare professionals

Go to /sign-in page

You can view 5 more pages before signing in


Last reviewed dd mmm yyyy. Last edited dd mmm yyyy

Authoring team


  • is difficulty in swallowing food or liquid
    • cause may be local or systemic.
  • is common, especially in old age
  • should be distinguished from the following two conditions
    • odynophagia : painful swallowing (frequently associated with dysphagia)
    • globus : sensation of a mass in the throat
  • can be grouped as :
    • oropharyngeal dysphagia
      • abnormalities of the initiation of swallowing reflex in the oropharynx
      • common in old age
      • commonest cause is stroke
    • oesophageal dysphagia
      • abnormalities of flow of the food bolus through the esophagus into the stomach
      • causes include:
        • achalasia, scleroderma,carcinomas, strictures

Key points (2):

  • new onset dysphagia in adults requires urgent direct access upper gastrointestinal endoscopy (to be done within two weeks); dysphagia associated with head and neck cancer red flags requires a suspected head and neck cancer pathway referral
  • in many cases malignancy is not found, but management of benign conditions, such as oesophageal dysmotility or gastro-oesophageal reflux, can be challenging
  • secondary sequelae of benign and malignant dysphagia include malnutrition and aspiration pneumonia: consider early input from dietetic and speech and language therapy teams


Related pages

Create an account to add page annotations

Annotations allow you to add information to this page that would be handy to have on hand during a consultation. E.g. a website or number. This information will always show when you visit this page.

The content herein is provided for informational purposes and does not replace the need to apply professional clinical judgement when diagnosing or treating any medical condition. A licensed medical practitioner should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions.


Copyright 2024 Oxbridge Solutions Limited, a subsidiary of OmniaMed Communications Limited. All rights reserved. Any distribution or duplication of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited. Oxbridge Solutions receives funding from advertising but maintains editorial independence.