Difficulty When Swallowing

What Causes Difficulty Swallowing?

Difficulty swallowing can have various causes, ranging in severity from 'troubling' to 'very serious'.  Finding the true cause means ruling out or confirming each possibility – in other words, diagnosis.

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Diagnosis is usually a complex process due to the sheer number of possible causes and related symptoms.  In order to diagnose difficulty swallowing, we could:

  • Research the topic
  • Find a doctor with the time
  • Use a diagnostic computer system.
The process is the same, whichever method is used.

Step 1: List all Possible Causes

We begin by identifying the disease conditions which have "difficulty swallowing" as a symptom.  Here are six possibilities:
  • Muscular Dystrophy
  • Lichen Planus
  • Candida / Yeast
  • Fluorosis
  • Esophageal Stricture
  • Dermatomyositis

Step 2: Build a Symptom Checklist

We then identify all possible symptoms and risk factors of each possible cause, and check the ones that apply:
heavily coated tongue
very great unexplained weight loss
wearing clean dentures all day
allergy to chemicals
shortness of breath when at rest
non-vaginal candidiasis
significant mouth sores
high refined sugar consumption
mouth sores
tetracycline use
numb/burning/tingling extremities
history of non-vaginal candidiasis
... and more than 60 others

Step 3: Rule Out or Confirm each Possible Cause

A differential diagnosis of your symptoms and risk factors finds the likely cause of difficulty swallowing:
Cause Probability Status
Lichen Planus 95% Confirm
Dermatomyositis 57% Possible
Candida / Yeast 12% Unlikely
Fluorosis 0% Ruled out
Esophageal Stricture 0% Ruled out
Muscular Dystrophy 0% Ruled out
* This is a simple example to illustrate the process

Arriving at a Correct Diagnosis

The Analyst™ is our online diagnosis tool that learns all about you through a straightforward process of multi-level questioning, providing diagnosis at the end.

If you indicate eating-related issues, The Analyst™ will ask further questions including this one:
Do you have difficulty swallowing? In other words, do you have difficulty getting liquids or chewed food to "go down"?
Possible responses:
→ No / don't know
→ Occasionally / mild
→ Often / severe
Based on your response to this question, which may indicate difficulty swallowing, The Analyst™ will consider possibilities such as:
Esophageal Stricture (narrowing)

Difficulty swallowing, pain with swallowing, weight loss and regurgitation of food are the main symptoms.

Muscular Dystrophy

Hereditary conditions such as muscular dystrophy can lead to swallowing difficulty (dysphagia) due to a lack of muscle control necessary for normal swallowing.

Oral Lichen Planus

Lichen planus lesions in the throat or esophagus may result in esophageal narrowing or the formation of tight, ring-like bands in the esophagus that can make swallowing difficult.

Yeast / Candida Infection

If you have fungal overgrowth in your esophagus, symptoms may include pain and difficulty in swallowing.

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