Voice & Swallowing Details

Swallowing is a complex function involving your mouth, throat and esophagus. People normally swallow hundreds of times a day in order to eat food, drink liquids, and to swallow normal saliva and mucus that your body produces.

The process of swallowing has four related stages:

  1. The first stage is the oral preparation stage, where food or liquid is chewed in preparation for swallowing.
  2. The second stage is the oral stage where your tongue pushes the food or liquid to the back of the mouth to start the swallowing process.
  3. The third stage is the pharyngeal stage, which begins as your food, or liquid is passed through the pharynx or the region of your throat that connects your mouth with the esophagus, then into your esophagus or swallowing tube.
  4. The final stage is the esophageal stage where your food or liquid passes through the esophagus into your stomach.

Although the first and second stages utilize some voluntary control, stages three and four occur instinctively without conscious input.

Difficulty in swallowing (dysphagia) is common among all age groups and the term dysphagia refers to the feeling of difficulty passing food or liquid from your mouth to your stomach. Some causes are temporary and not threatening however when the symptoms do not clear up, it is recommended that you see a qualified otolaryngologist such as Dr. V.

There are many causes for a person to have difficulty or pain when swallowing food or liquid and the impact can be devastating. Swallowing problems can develop for a variety of reasons including:

  • Injury
  • Pulmonary problems
  • Neurological problems
  • Nerve disorders
  • Brain damage
  • Conditions that compress the esophagus
  • Abnormalities of the throat, larynx, neck and spine
  • A narrow esophagus
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Stroke
  • Gastroesophageal disease (GERD)
  • Cervical spine disease
  • Zenker’s Diverticulum
  • Polyps, cysts, nodules, and lesions
  • Vocal impairment and paralysis
  • Laryngeal cancer
  • Laryngopharyngeal reflux
  • Intubation trauma
  • Papilloma
  • Granuloma
  • Laryngopharyngeal Reflux (LPRD)
  • Cancers and Tumors
  • Hemorrhage
  • Sulcus Vocalis
  • Reinke’s Edema
  • Subglottic Stenosis
  • Tracheal Stenosis

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