Problems with swallowing can be painful, frustrating, and a little unnerving. Fortunately, it’s relatively easy to determine the cause. You should still see an ENT specialist to help diagnose the problem and ensure it’s not something more serious. In the meantime, here are some common reasons that it can become difficult to swallow.
The larynx is a part of the throat that manages airflow to the lungs and helps with vocal cord function. It can, however, become easily infected from various different illnesses like the cold, flu, or bronchitis. It can also be caused by overuse of the voice or smoking. Once infected, it can become swollen and hamper the important functions of the throat. Laryngitis isn’t usually serious, and usually goes away on its own within a couple weeks with some at-home care like plenty of fluids, a humid environment (created by a hot shower or humidifier) and resting the voice.
Although it sounds similar, the pharynx is different than the larynx and is located between it and the tonsils. Pharyngitis occurs when it becomes swollen and infected. This condition is common and accompanies viral illnesses like a cold, flu, or mononucleosis. It can also be caused by bacterial infections like strep throat. Pharyngitis can also be managed similarly to laryngitis, and generally goes away naturally, except in cases of bacterial infection, which might require prescribed antibiotics.
Similar to the other two causes, epiglottitis is caused by swelling of the epiglottis, which is the tissue flap that blocks the windpipe and prevents foreign material from entering. It can be caused by bacterial infection, burns from hot liquids, and injury. This is often the most serious and painful condition that can restrict your swallowing and breathing ability, so you should see an ENT specialist if you’re experiencing a severe sore throat and are feverish.
Complications with swallowing in the throat can be non-serious, but they can also be cause for concern. If you’re experiencing throat trouble, you should visit an ENT specialist to make sure you’re not at risk for something serious. To schedule an appointment with our trained and certified staff, contact our office at (205) 722-6822.