ZocdocAnswersWhy is it hard for me to swallow bread?

Question

Why is it hard for me to swallow bread?

I am a 34 year old mother of 3. This has started happening all of a sudden in the past 2 years. Any time I eat a sandwich or anything with a lot of bread it gets stuck in my throat and I can not get it down without a lot of fluid. Even if I take my time and chew really well this happens. It has never been a problem in the past (before the last 2 years) and my throat does not otherwise hurt.

Answer

What you are experiencing is what we call dysphagia, or difficulty swallowing. The causes of dysphagia are many, and all require investigation. The best type of physician for you to see about this problem is a gastroenterologist. Although it does not sound intuitive, soft breads are the most likely thing to get stuck in your esophagus if anything. This is because after you swallow, the bread expands getting caught on any obstruction. This may mean that you have a minor esophageal mechanical obstruction which is causing the bread to get stuck. The most likely possibilities include an esophageal ring or web which are connective tissue that is abnormally protruding into the esophagus. If you have injured your esophagus in the past, then this obstruction may be an area of scar tissue. Finally, esophageal cancer is a possibility, though it is extremely rare in women your age. I suggest that you schedule an appointment with a gastroenterologist. He or she can take detailed past medical history to get a feel for how your dysphagia has progressed. Depending on the nature of this progression, the doctor may decide to perform an endoscopy to look for any obstructions in your esophagus. This is where the doctor uses a long camera to look into your esophagus and visualize any problems. Good luck.

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