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HealthInfo Canterbury

Overview of swallowing difficulties

An older woman is having trouble swallowing her foodIf you feel that food or drink gets stuck in your throat when you swallow, or you cough more than usual when eating or drinking, or it hurts to swallow, it's important to see your GP straight away. Your GP will usually refer you to a specialist to find the cause, as it may be caused by a serious medical problem.

The medical term for swallowing problems is dysphagia.

If you know what's making it difficult to swallow – for example Parkinson disease, the effects of a stroke, or dementia – there are several things you or the person caring for you can do to help. The information on these pages provides general tips and advice. For specific advice, talk to your GP or speech-language therapist.

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Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed October 2020.

See also:

Eating well and maintaining a healthy weight, for older adults

Page reference: 797492

Review key: HISWD-121957