Do You Have Pain When Swallowing? What Does it Mean?

Jul 15, 2022 | Blog

Many people experience pain when swallowing. Medically known as Odynophagia, this condition can cause pain in the mouth, throat, esophagus, and chest. Painful swallowing usually occurs when you swallow a pill wrong or have an infection. But that’s not all, as it can be a symptom of an underlying health issue. We will discuss five possible culprits of painful swallowing in this blog.

Common Causes of Pain When Swallowing

When we swallow, the muscles and nerves in our mouth, throat, and food pipe get to work. Problems like inflammation, infection, and obstruction in these areas can affect our swallowing and cause pain. Some reasons for swallowing pain are:

1. Throat Injury
What we eat can also be responsible for painful swallowing. Sometimes we are eager to taste a delicious snack or a beverage, and we gulp it down when it is still hot. Later, it can scorch our mouth or throat, and they hurt when we swallow. Moreover, eating something with sharp edges can scratch our throats. Therefore, consuming something sharp or hot can cause throat injury, leading to pain when swallowing.

2. Tonsillitis
There are two lymph nodes at the back of your throat, and they are called tonsils. They can get inflamed due to viruses or bacterial infections, a contagious condition known as tonsillitis. The symptoms of tonsillitis include:

  • Yellow or white patches on tonsils
  • Bad breath
  • Swollen tonsils
  • Tender neck or jaw
  • Fever

3. Strep Throat
Group A Streptococcus bacteria causes a bacterial infection known as strep throat. It is the usual culprit behind painful swallowing. If your throat hurts when eating due to strep throat, you might experience the following:

  • One or both lymph nodes at the back of your throat are swollen
  • Tonsils have white spots
  • The mouth’s roof or soft palate has red marks
  • Fever
  • The roof of the mouth hurts

4. Oral Thrush
Yeast infection can appear in your mouth, throat, or food pipe. Usually, bacteria called candida are responsible for yeast infection, leading to a condition called oral thrush. One of the signs of oral thrush is a pain when swallowing. Other than this, you might also notice:

  • Your tongue has white patches
  • The skin at the corner of your lips looks red
  • The corners of the lips are dry or cracked
  • Loss of taste

5. Esophagitis
The esophagus is crucial for swallowing because it carries foods and liquid from our mouth to the stomach. You can get inflammation in this pipe due to acid reflux, allergic reactions, medications, or infection, a condition known as esophagitis. If your swallowing pain is a consequence of esophagitis, these symptoms will also show up:

  • Pain in the chest and stomach
  • Coughing
  • Nausea
  • Heartburn
  • Hoarse voice

What Should You Do Next?

Pain when swallowing can indicate many conditions, ranging from minor throat injuries to infections. You should contact your dentist if your throat, neck, mouth, or chest hurts when you eat or drink something.

Our oral health experts at Champions Dental can help; dial 281-866-0442 to schedule an appointment or visit our dental clinic.

Dr. Esteban Garza, DDS, MAGD

Dr. Esteban Garza, DDS, MAGD

Dr. Esteban Garza, a Texas native with roots in the Rio Grande Valley, boasts a diverse educational and professional background. After completing his Biology degree at Texas A&M, he transitioned from teaching to dentistry, earning his DDS from Baylor College of Dentistry. Dr. Garza’s commitment to excellence for over 15 years, is evident through his extensive education in various dental specialities, culminating in prestigious accolades like the Fellowship Award in 2016 and the Mastership in the Academy of General Dentistry in 2020, achieved by less than 2% of dentists. 


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