Our ability to swallow changes over time, becoming more difficult as we age. Dysphagia affects around 20 percent of those over 50, but aging isn’t the only reason swallowing difficulties occur. Neurological disorders, cancers, head or neck injuries, and missing teeth can all contribute to the issue. There are many tests and treatments available, as well as research projects and studies being conducted around the world to better understand and treat dysphagia.


1. The Phases of Swallowing

Everyone has trouble swallowing at some point. Sometimes, food just won’t go down or it feels like it is going down the wrong way. It can be painful and a little scary. There are three phases of swallowing, and people may have difficulty during one or all of them. The oral phase includes chewing and moving food from the mouth into the throat. The pharyngeal phase starts as food and liquids move down through the upper throat, into the esophagus. In the esophageal phase, the food moves down the esophagus or lower throat, into the stomach.


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