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Dyspahiga or difficulty in swallowing
Dysphagia or difficulty in swallowing is another common complaint often seen in gastroenetrological practice. It can be very mild and transient but it can be severe and persistent. Odynophagia is painful swallowing.

Transient dysphagia is often seen in throat disorders like tonsillitis and pharyngitis but these conditions may also have odynophagia, fever, redness of throat , hoarseness at times and fairly easy to diagnose and treat and a ENT consult is necessary.

Commonest cause of dysphagia is reflux esophagitis. This is a condition associated with heartburn where contents of the stomach and acid regurgitates back into the food pipe due to a faulty valve between the food pipe and stomach. This is usually transient and settles down with postural treatment and drugs.

Another group of disorders of the food pipe called the motility disorders can also cause dysphagia, some of them of a severe variety called the achalsia of the cardia. These are diagnosed by the esopgaeal manometry and respond well to medication .Some of them like achalsia may require surgery.

The most dreaded condition causing dyasphagia is cancer of the food pipe, fairly frequent in India especially among smokers and this will require advanced tests, surgery and maybe chemotherapy or radiotherapy .

So dysphagia is yet another important digestive symptom which should not be ignored and will require a specialist consultation and endoscopy if persistent.

Dr.Patta Radhakrishna
Surgical Gastroenterologist

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