Swallowing is an intricate act involving different parts such as the mouth, your throat, and the esophagus or the tube where food you have taken moves through to the stomach. There are many muscles and nerves controlling how the different body parts involved in swallowing work. Some part of swallowing act is voluntary meaning you are aware when you control the action but some other parts of swallowing are involuntary.
Whenever there is any problem in parts involved in swallowing whether chewing of food, moving the food to back of mouth, or moving it to the stomach, these can result in pain during swallowing. Many people may ask —why does it hurt when I swallow. The answer to this question lies in understanding of how the different parts involved in swallowing such as throat, mouth, and esophagus work and the diseases or conditions which may affect the functioning of these parts.
Having chest pain, feeling food being struck in throat, or pressure and heaviness in upper chest and neck when eating, are often associated with difficulty swallowing. Swallowing pain may be felt high in neck or it could occur lower down behind breastbone. In painful swallowing, it often brings a strong feeling of some uncomfortable squeezing and burning. While this may be due to some minor problems, at times, it can indicate a serious disorder.
In case the pain comes due to illness, the most likely symptom you will experience is a sore throat. You probably know how you feel when there is oncoming cold where the throat starts to irritate and the glands swell making swallowing a painful experience. In case you are wondering why does it hurt when I swallow, then here are the possible causes of painful swallowing.
Causes of painful swallowing
Painful swallowing is a common experience among people of different ages and time in time; people will complain having pain when they swallow. It is often a symptom that can be associated with different causes ranging from a toothache to a throat infection. When you have difficulty swallowing and it is accompanied by pain, this is generally a sign of an infection or some allergy reactions.
You may want to see a doctor if the pain becomes severe or it persists for long and interferes with drinking, eating, and breathing. The possible causes of painful swallowing are such as throat injury, swollen lymph glands of the tonsils and adenoids, ear infection, swallowing large pills, cold, flu, tonsillitis, throat infection, chronic cough, and acid reflux disease.
The most common reason why it would hurt when you swallow is because you have an infection. It may be a virus, bacteria, fungi, or other pathogens, which trigger inflammation from the body immunes system. The inflammation— is part of the body’s natural defense mechanism but it will make it painful for you to swallow.
Cold is the most known type of a viral infection, but there may be others, which affect the mouth and throat leading to throat pain. A viral infection developing in saliva glands makes the glands to swell and this causes painful and uncomfortable swallowing. Although less common, individuals may also experience bacterial infections that affect the throat and mouth. These types of infections tend to be more severe.
A strep throat bacterial infection is a contagious condition caused by streptococcus bacteria. It makes the tonsils and throat to redden and swell thereby making swallowing difficult and painful. Sexual transmitted diseases— STDs may also be associated with painful swallowing. People may not think that STDs could result in pain when swallowing but this can happen.
The Chlamydia bacteria may affect the throat and mouth due to oral sex. Gonorrhea is another bacterial infection, which may infect your throat after you have had oral sex. Syphilis bacteria may also be another cause of infection in throat that causes pain.
Fungal infections are common in people who have compromised immune systems. When there are changes in moisture in the mouth, this may cause excess growth of fungus. A condition called thrush is caused by growth of Candida fungus in mouth, and it may result in small but painful sores in areas of throat and mouth.
Canker sores are another condition, which may cause pain in throat. While canker sores tend to occur around the gums and teeth, at times, they can also occur in back and top of throat where they become difficult to see. These can cause pain when you swallow. Some medications are believed to cause sore throat that may trigger painful swallowing.
Medications are taken to treat illness, however, sometimes these drugs can cause pain in throat. Taking medicines overnight may cause the lining of mouth or throat to dry and start irritating. Medications used to treat depression and allergies can cause dry mouth, and they are associated with sore throat that happens in the morning.
Another explanation of why does it hurt when I swallow, is stomach acid that has moved up to throat. People who experience acid reflux and heartburn will complaint that it hurts to swallow especially when these conditions are not managed properly. The acid that moves up from stomach to mouth will cause irritation and damage of the vocal cords and throat. This may cause inflammation and make it difficult and painful to swallow.
When you feel pain when swallowing and you have other symptoms and signs such as blood in stool or stool appearing black, weight loss, shortness of breath, chills, fever, wheezing, cough, and abdominal pain, you may want to see a doctor.