Cardiothoracic Surgery Patient Care
Difficulty when swallowing is the sensation that food is stuck in the throat or upper abdomen. This may be felt high in the neck or lower down, behind the breastbone (sternum).
Alternative Names: Dysphagia; Impaired swallowing
Considerations: Swallowing is a complex act that involves the mouth, throat area, and esophagus (tube that transports food to the stomach). Many nerves and muscles affect the correct function of these parts. Part of the swallowing mechanism is under conscious (voluntary) control. However, much of swallowing is involuntary.
Problems at any point, from chewing food and moving it into the back of the mouth, to moving the food into the stomach, can result in difficulty swallowing.
Frequently, symptoms of chest pain, food stuck in the throat, heaviness or pressure in the neck or upper chest, are the result of dysphagia.
Structures of the throat include the esophagus, trachea, epiglottis and tonsils.