Dysphagia is the medical term for swallowing difficulties.
Some people with dysphagia have problems swallowing certain foods or liquids, while others can't swallow at all.
Other signs of dysphagia include:
Over time, dysphagia can also cause symptoms such as weight loss and repeated chest infections.
You should see your GP if you, or someone you care for, have difficulty swallowing or any other signs of dysphagia so you can get treatment to help with your symptoms.
Early investigation can also help to rule out other more serious conditions, such as oesophageal cancer.
Your GP will assess you and may refer you for further tests.
Read more about diagnosing dysphagia.
Treatment usually depends on the cause and type of dysphagia.
Many cases of dysphagia can be improved with careful management, but a cure isn't always possible. Treatments for dysphagia include:
Read more about treating dysphagia.
Dysphagia is usually caused by another health condition, such as:
Children can also have dysphagia as a result of a developmental or learning disability, such as cerebral palsy.
Read more about the causes of dysphagia.
Dysphagia can sometimes lead to further problems.
One of the most common problems is coughing or choking, when food goes down the "wrong way" and blocks your airway. This can lead to chest infections, such as aspiration pneumonia, which require urgent medical treatment.
Aspiration pneumonia can develop after accidentally inhaling something, such as a small piece of food.
Warning signs of aspiration pneumonia include:
If you, or someone you care for, have been diagnosed with dysphagia and you develop these symptoms, contact your treatment team immediately, or call NHS 111.
Dysphagia can also affect your quality of life because it may prevent you from enjoying meals and social occasions.
If children with long-term dysphagia aren't eating enough, they may not get the essential nutrients they need for physical and mental development.
Children who have difficulty eating may also find meal times stressful, which may lead to behavioural problems.
Our guide to care and support explains your options and where you can get support.