Hurts to Swallow
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Reviewed By:

Eric A. Gantwerker, MD, MMSC

Eric A. Gantwerker, MD, MMSC (Ear, nose, throat (ENT))

Pediatric Otolaryngologist at Northwell Health and Associate Professor of Otolaryngology at Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell. He holds a Master of Medical Science (MMSc) in Medical Education with a special focus on educational technology, educational research, and game-based learning from Harvard Medical School and a Master of Science in Physiology and Biophysics from Georgetown University. He has a special interest in faculty development and has been a speaker or faculty at hundreds of local, national, and international courses and conferences. He is also an active blogger and podcaster for several organizations, including the Harvard Macy Institute (HMI), Harvard Medical School CME Online, and BackTable Innovations. He has been featured in the news and print for media outlets such as USA Today, Businesswire, The Washington Post, Nature Medicine, Fox News, and KevinMD. He was also the Vice President, Medical Director of a medical video game company, Level Ex from 2018 to 2023 that utilized game technology and psychology to create interactive experiences for healthcare professionals. | He is recognized as an expert on the implementation of educational technologies and gaming with a foundation in educational theory for health professions education. He was honored to be inducted as an Associate Member of the American College of Surgeons (ACS) Academy of Master Surgeon Educators and as an Associate Fellow of the Association for Medical Education in Europe (AMEE).

Yoshinori Abe, MD

Yoshinori Abe, MD (Internal medicine)

Dr. Abe graduated from The University of Tokyo School of Medicine in 2015. He completed his residency at the Tokyo Metropolitan Health and Longevity Medical Center. He co-founded Ubie, Inc. in May 2017, where he currently serves as CEO & product owner at Ubie. Since December 2019, he has been a member of the Special Committee for Activation of Research in Emergency AI of the Japanese Association for Acute Medicine. | | Dr. Abe has been elected in the 2020 Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia Healthcare & Science category.

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  • Pain when swallowing food

  • It hurts when I swallow

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Content updated on Nov 29, 2023

About the symptom

Pain while swallowing (odynophagia) most often occurs when there is inflammation of the throat or surrounding structures, including inflammation of the pharynx or esophagus. It can also be due to narrowing (strictures) or infection or, less commonly, masses in the throat. It can also be accompanied by actual trouble swallowing also known as dysphagia.

When to see a doctor

Seek professional care if you experience any of the following symptoms

  • Pain when swallowing

Possible causes

  • Retropharyngeal abscess

    A retropharyngeal abscess is rare but potentially life-threatening infection that forms behind the back wall of the throat. Symptoms include sore throat, fevers, inability to completely open jaw (trismus), and limited neck range of motion. Imaging including ultrasounds and CT scans might be used to determine severity.

  • Suppurative lymphadenitis

    Lymphadenitis suppurativa is the inflammation and suppuration (pus formation) of lymph nodes in the body.

  • Acute tonsillitis / pharyngitis

    Infection of the tonsils and pharynx (back of the mouth), either by viruses or bacteria.

  • Common cold (upper respiratory tract infection)
  • Coronavirus infection

  • Otitis media

Related serious diseases

Questions your doctor may ask about this symptom

Your doctor may ask these questions to check for this symptom

  • Do you feel pain when you swallow food?

  • Do you have a fever?

  • Do you have a cough?

  • Is your nose running?

  • Are you having difficulty breathing?

Other Related Symptoms

Similar symptoms or complaints

References

  • Odynophagia - Healthline

    https://www.healthline.com/health/odynophagia

  • Odynophagia - Yale Medicine

    https://www.yalemedicine.org/clinical-keywords/odynophagia

Reviewed By:

Eric A. Gantwerker, MD, MMSC

Eric A. Gantwerker, MD, MMSC (Ear, nose, throat (ENT))

Pediatric Otolaryngologist at Northwell Health and Associate Professor of Otolaryngology at Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell. He holds a Master of Medical Science (MMSc) in Medical Education with a special focus on educational technology, educational research, and game-based learning from Harvard Medical School and a Master of Science in Physiology and Biophysics from Georgetown University. He has a special interest in faculty development and has been a speaker or faculty at hundreds of local, national, and international courses and conferences. He is also an active blogger and podcaster for several organizations, including the Harvard Macy Institute (HMI), Harvard Medical School CME Online, and BackTable Innovations. He has been featured in the news and print for media outlets such as USA Today, Businesswire, The Washington Post, Nature Medicine, Fox News, and KevinMD. He was also the Vice President, Medical Director of a medical video game company, Level Ex from 2018 to 2023 that utilized game technology and psychology to create interactive experiences for healthcare professionals. | He is recognized as an expert on the implementation of educational technologies and gaming with a foundation in educational theory for health professions education. He was honored to be inducted as an Associate Member of the American College of Surgeons (ACS) Academy of Master Surgeon Educators and as an Associate Fellow of the Association for Medical Education in Europe (AMEE).

Yoshinori Abe, MD

Yoshinori Abe, MD (Internal medicine)

Dr. Abe graduated from The University of Tokyo School of Medicine in 2015. He completed his residency at the Tokyo Metropolitan Health and Longevity Medical Center. He co-founded Ubie, Inc. in May 2017, where he currently serves as CEO & product owner at Ubie. Since December 2019, he has been a member of the Special Committee for Activation of Research in Emergency AI of the Japanese Association for Acute Medicine. | | Dr. Abe has been elected in the 2020 Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia Healthcare & Science category.

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