According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), dysphagia is a swallowing disorder that can make it challenging to drink and eat comfortably. Along with coughing or choking while drinking liquids, signs of dysphagia may include feeling like food or liquids are getting stuck in your throat or chest, experiencing pain while swallowing, regurgitating food or liquids, and even losing weight without explanation. Dysphagia can be caused by neurological conditions, muscle disorders, or narrowing, blockages, and structural issues in the throat (per Cleveland Clinic).
Depending on the severity of your dysphagia, you may be encouraged to try different diets, such as thickened liquids, pureed foods, or modified meals, to make swallowing easier and safer. Speech therapy can also be a valuable tool in diagnosing and treating swallowing disorders, and a speech-language pathologist will work with you to customize exercises that can improve muscle coordination and swallowing techniques. In some cases, medications might be prescribed to help manage underlying causes of dysphagia, such as acid reflux or inflammation. If your dysphagia is more severe, your healthcare provider may recommend surgical interventions to address any structural issues that are contributing to your swallowing difficulties.