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Dysphagia is a difficult or abnormal sensation when swallowing; the issue affects around 20% of people over 50, but problems with swallowing are not a normal part of aging. Neurological disorders, cancers, head or neck injuries, and missing teeth can all contribute to swallowing difficulties. Many tests and treatments are available, and research is ongoing around the world to better understand and manage dysphagia.

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1. The Phases of Swallowing

There are three phases of swallowing, and a person with dysphagia 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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