Pain when swallowing are usually associated with a sore throat. They often occur in the cold winter months.
Difficulty swallowing can take an acute or a chronic course. It is not uncommon for patients to also suffer from a feeling of foreign bodies in the throat.
Doctors refer to swallowing difficulties such as pain when swallowing as dysphagia. They are usually associated with a sore throat and occur as part of a flu-like infection. The affected people are unable to swallow food or drink without pain.
Difficulty swallowing can take an acute or a chronic course. It is not uncommon for patients to also suffer from a feeling of foreign bodies in the throat. The painful swallowing difficulties usually arise overnight and become noticeable the next morning.
In most cases, a sore throat is responsible for pain when swallowing. This is usually associated with a cold or flu (influenza). Other complaints such as runny nose, hoarseness, chills, fever as well as headaches and body aches can occur.
Other possible causes of difficulty swallowing include tonsillitis, acute inflammation of the throat (pharyngitis), inflammation of the larynx (laryngitis), mouth rot or cysts. In rare cases, narrowing of the esophagus, such as a tumor, is responsible for the symptoms. Sometimes the pain is also triggered by an insect bite because a bee or wasp was accidentally swallowed. There is even a risk of suffocation if the prick is made in the lining of the throat and causes swelling.
In children, pain when swallowing is sometimes an early symptom of serious illness.These primarily include scarlet fever and diphtheria. Difficulty swallowing is usually caused by pathogens such as bacteria and viruses. Acute tonsillitis, which is associated with severe sore throats, is caused by group A streptococci. Likewise, sore throat can be traced back to streptococci. In most cases, however, viruses are responsible.
Viral infections cause a flu-like infection (cold), which also includes a sore throat and pain when swallowing. Common pathogens are rhinoviruses, adenoviruses and parainfluenza viruses. In contrast, echoviruses, herpes viruses and coxsackieviruses trigger a sore throat. Another condition that can cause pain when swallowing is mumps.
If the painful difficulty swallowing persists for a long time or if other symptoms occur, it is advisable to consult a doctor. It is recommended that you consult a specialist doctor such as an ear, nose and throat doctor. This investigates the cause of the pain. To do this, he will thoroughly examine the neck to find any visible redness, evidence, or swelling.
If necessary, examinations deeper in the throat or a swab will be taken. The latter is then examined for possible pathogens in a laboratory. The examination also focuses on swelling in the neck area, which could make the pain worse when swallowing. With diphtheria, gray deposits appear on the tonsils. In the case of scarlet fever, an itchy rash forms all over the body.
Occasionally, additional tests such as a blood test or a larynx reflection may be necessary. If the pain when swallowing is a side effect of a cold, it will go away on its own after a few days. Most patients no longer feel pain after five days. Sometimes the difficulty swallowing can also hide serious causes such as Pfeiffer's glandular fever or even a tumor in the larynx.
Pain when swallowing is not always a harmless thing. The pain in swallowing when transporting saliva becomes an acute problem. If this can no longer be swallowed due to the symptoms, part of it gets into the lungs. This can lead to the dangerous complication of pneumonia (aspiration pneumonia).
Therefore, an ENT specialist should quickly determine the triggering cause. If there is also excessive saliva secretion (hypersalivation), there is a risk of acute attacks of suffocation. The rescue service must be alerted immediately. Stroke patients, dementia patients, Parkinson's patients and residents in nursing homes are particularly often affected. In many cases, these patients can no longer express themselves, but despite medical care, these complaints lead to death in over 50 percent of those affected.
Likewise, pain when swallowing due to the side effects of chemotherapy can lead to the refusal to eat or the sense of taste to be completely impaired. The resulting refusal to eat leads to a threatening weight loss, which weakens the general condition of the patient and makes the entire body more susceptible to other diseases.
Furthermore, the signs of a larynx are similar to a sore throat with pain when swallowing, which are often treated by trying home remedies. However, the dangerous bacterial variant of inflammation of the epiglottitis (epiglottitis), high fever, can develop. Often children of preschool age are affected, only rarely adults. The emergency doctor must be alerted urgently, as there is a life-threatening condition due to the risk of suffocation.
Difficulty swallowing is often an accompanying symptom in connection with minor infections. However, if the symptoms do not subside after three to four days or if they increase in intensity, a visit to a doctor is recommended so that diseases that require treatment such as pharyngitis (inflammation of the throat), laryngitis (inflammation of the larynx) or cysts or oral rot can be excluded. This also applies if other symptoms such as hoarseness, fever, chills and headaches and body aches are added.
Immediate medical diagnosis is necessary if food intake is already impeded in order to prevent (further) weight loss. You should also be in a hurry if swallowing is not only painful but also leads to swallowing or if there is a feeling that there is a foreign body in your throat. The latter symptoms are mostly based on massive swelling of the mucous membranes or tonsils, the cause of which must be clarified.
If there is a serious underlying disease, the swallowing difficulties require treatment from the start because they usually do not go away on their own. A tumorous disease of the lymph nodes (e.g. lymph gland cancer) or the esophagus should be mentioned in this context. In relation to the esophagus, it can also be inflammation. Symptomatic treatment can have a positive effect on the healing of the underlying disease.
Difficulty swallowing caused by a cold, dry mucous membranes or irritation of the throat can also be treated with home remedies. The sick should drink a lot despite the pain when swallowing. This way, the mucous membranes get more moisture, which reduces inflammation. Hot soups, a hot lemon or warm milk with honey are suitable. Teas that contain herbs such as sage or thyme also have a soothing effect.
In the case of a sore throat, it is advisable to cover the neck with a scarf and apply warm wraps. Smokers have to give up their cigarettes during the symptoms. If bacteria are responsible for the pain, lukewarm salt water can be used to gargle. This helps to disinfect the throat and pharynx. Inhalations with medicinal herbs such as chamomile also have a soothing effect. In order to protect your throat, it is advisable not to eat very spicy foods. So these irritate the attacked mucous membranes unnecessarily.
Homeopathy also knows remedies to combat swallowing problems. However, both chamomile and coffee must be avoided during therapy. The homeopathic remedies Echinacea (dosage D 1) and Mercurius solubilis (dosage D 12) are recommended for severe sore throats in the initial stage. In the subsequent stages, Mercurius cyanatus (D 12), Aconitum (D 12) and Belladonna (D 30) are considered helpful. If the difficulty swallowing occurs exclusively on the left side, the use of Lachesis (D 12) is recommended.
If the symptoms persist after a few days despite using home remedies, it is important to consult a doctor. If a tumor is causing pain when swallowing, either surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy is performed. A combination of these therapy methods can also be useful.
Pain when swallowing can occur for many different reasons. Usually, however, the pain when swallowing occurs with a cold or flu and disappears on its own when the patient is healthy again. They can last for a few days even after the cold has ended.
Painkillers usually do not need to be taken, but tea and cough drops help relieve pain when swallowing. As a result of this pain, normal food or fluid intake is sometimes no longer possible, which is not particularly beneficial in the case of flu.
If the pain when swallowing is relatively severe and does not go away on its own, a doctor must be consulted. In this case, it could be tonsillitis or some other inflammation, such as in the lungs. In any case, this inflammation must be treated by a doctor, otherwise it can spread to other parts of the body.
Usually the pain when swallowing is treated with medication. In some cases surgical treatment has to take place, for example to completely remove the tonsils. There are no complications.
There are various preventive measures to avoid infections that cause difficulty swallowing. It helps to strengthen the immune system with fresh, vitamin-rich fruits and vegetables. Warm clothing should always be worn in winter. Exercise is also considered helpful. Regular hand washing with soap is recommended to protect against infection.
In most cases, the pain when swallowing occurs during the course of a cold or flu. In these cases they go away on their own without any complications. Teas and cough drops help against the pain when swallowing. Chamomile tea or nettle tea in particular can be taken here.
A healthy lifestyle also has a positive effect on the pain when swallowing. Especially with the flu or a cold, the patient has to consume enough food and fluids in order not to show any deficiency symptoms. Fruit and vegetables are particularly helpful here. To prevent the pain when swallowing, it is generally important to keep the throat and throat area moist. This can also be done by inhaling salt or essential oils. A visit to a steam sauna can also help, but attention should be paid to low temperatures so as not to further strain a possibly weakened circulation.
In order not to aggravate the pain when swallowing, the person affected should avoid food that is too spicy or too salty. Usually home remedies such as onions, garlic, or ginger also help relieve sore throats and pain when swallowing. These home remedies are pain relieving and anti-inflammatory. Onion juice can be made from onions and garlic can be chewed to disinfect the mouth and throat. Ginger can be poured with hot water and drunk as a tea. It is also recommended to chew ginger.
If the difficulty in swallowing does not decrease, a visit to the doctor is advisable.