AskDefine | Define dysphagia

Dictionary Definition

dysphagia n : condition in which swallowing is difficult or painful

User Contributed Dictionary




  1. difficulty in swallowing

Extensive Definition

Dysphagia should not be confused with the similarly pronounced dysphasia, a language disorder.
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 derives from the Greek root dys meaning difficulty or disordered, and phagia meaning "to 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. Swallowing problems are a common complaint among older individuals, and the incidence of dysphagia is higher in the elderly, in patients who have had strokes, and in patients who are admitted to acute care hospitals or chronic care facilities. Other causes of dysphagia include head and neck cancer and progressive neurologic diseases like Parkinson's disease, Multiple sclerosis, Shy-Drager syndrome, or Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Dysphagia is a symptom of many different causes, which can usually be elicited by a careful history by the treating physician. Some patients with swallowing disorders do not have dysphagia, so lack of the symptom does not exclude an underlying disease. Like breathing, which is normally accomplished without any forethought, swallowing can become awkward merely through focusing too intently on the process (see anxiety).
Dysphagia is classified into two major types: oropharyngeal dysphagia (or transfer dysphagia) and esophageal dysphagia. In some patients, no organic cause for dysphagia can be found, and these patients are defined as having functional dysphagia.
Each year, approximately ten million Americans are evaluated for swallowing disorders.


External links

dysphagia in German: Dysphagie
dysphagia in Spanish: Disfagia
dysphagia in French: Dysphagie
dysphagia in Italian: Disfagia
dysphagia in Malay (macrolanguage): Penyakit Disfagia
dysphagia in Polish: Dysfagia
dysphagia in Portuguese: Disfagia
dysphagia in Finnish: Dysfagia
dysphagia in Russian: Дисфагия
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