Causes of Dysphagia

Dysphagia may result from conditions that weaken or damage the muscles and nerves used for swallowing, such as:

  • Stroke
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • ALS/Lou Gehrig’s disease
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Dementia
  • Esophageal spasms
  • Scleroderma
  • Asthma
  • Cancers of the head, neck and throat
  • Injuries or trauma to the head, neck, and chest
  • An infection, irritation or allergic reaction causing narrowing of the esophagus
  • An immune system problem causing swelling and weakness
  • Nerve damage from surgery or radiation therapy
  • Medications for tremor or rigidity
Swallowing problems may also occur if something is blocking the throat or esophagus, like:

  • Esophageal tumors
  • Diverticula
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) causing ulcers and scars in the esophagus
  • Lymph nodes, tumors, or bone spurs on the vertebrae that press on the esophagus