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Odynophagia - Treatment, Symptoms, Causes

Updated on December 30, 2013

What is Odynophagia?

This medical condition is when a person experiences pain every time they swallow and the passing of the food through the esophagus to the stomach is delayed. This is when a person can have a piercing chest pain. Many times people get it confused with another medical condition called dysphagia, which the medical condition in which a person finds it difficult to swallow. When a person has odynophagia the person does not have problems with the swallowing process itself although there are times that when a person has odynophagia they can also have dysphagia. The pain that a person might experience can come from their mouth, esophagus, or throat. It can happen to anyone regardless of age, gender, or race.


  • Having a burning sensation when they swallow that is extremely uncomfortable.
  • Having a sense of squeezing around their throat when they attempt to swallow while drinking or eating or when a person swallows just to clear their throat.


There are many different things that can cause odynophagia that it is important that you see your physician as soon as you start to notice it. Normally the cause is because of some type of either irritation of the mucosa or destruction of the mucosa. Mucosa is the moist tissue that lines certain parts of the inside of your body such as your mouth. You can irritate it by constantly consuming extremely cold or hot beverages and food.

Other causes can include:

  • One factor could be a muscular disorder that negatively impacts the functions of the muscles in your throat.
  • It could also be caused by cancer in your esophagus, which is part of your digestive system that leads from your mouth to your stomach.
  • It can also be caused by an infection that develops in your upper respiratory tract.
  • Immune disorders
  • Drugs
  • Ulcers or open sores in the lining of your esophagus.
  • Epiglottitis-this is where there is an inflammation of the flap at the base of your tongue that keeps food from going into your windpipe.
  • Having a foreign body that is lodged in the lining of your esophagus or throat can lead to this medical condition.
  • Inflammation of the larynx
  • Irritants like using anti-inflammatory medications for a long period of time, drinking alcohol, or smoking.
  • Acid reflux diseases such as GERD.


There are no specific exams or tests to be used to diagnosis odynophagia. It is usually diagnosed by identifying the problem based on what symptoms a person has. If the physician suspects that it may be cancer they will normally do a biopsy.


Of course the main form of treatment is to eliminate what is causing a person to suffer from odynophagia. Some of the ways this medical condition can be treated are:

  • For ulcers they can surgically remove them.
  • If it is cancer it can be treated with chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
  • For upper respiratory infections the physician may prescribe antibiotics and oral forms of nasal decongestants.
  • It is caused by acid reflux disease you can take over-the-counter antacids or if it is a severe case the physician may give you a prescription medication for it.
  • Avoid caffeinated drinks, peppermint, and alcohol because all of these can aid in giving you acid reflux.


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