Odynophagia is a condition in which the affected person experiences extreme pain at the time of swallowing the food, liquids and medication pills.
This causes the food to take a lot of time to reach the stomach from the esophagus resulting in a stabbing pain in the chest.
Odynophagia can be confused with different condition called dysphagia but these two conditions are different in that.
Odynophagia causes pain with swallowing whereas in dysphagia the individual has difficulty in swallowing food altogether even though these two conditions can occur at the same time.
The pain caused because of odynophagia can be from the mouth, esophagus, or throat. Odynophagia is a condition which can occur in anyone irrespective of the age or gender.
Diagnosis of Odynophagia
If there is no obvious cause known for the odynophagia, then the doctor may need to conduct some studies to find out the cause of Odynophagia.
In cases of reflux, if the individual starts experiencing pain with eating then the possibility of cancer needs to be investigated especially if there is unintentional weight loss also reported.
If the food regurgitates from the esophagus and causes odynophagia, then this also may be a possibility of cancer. The main test to find out a definitive cause for odynophagia is an endoscopy.
Barium swallow study can also be done but it is rarely used these days. In case if endoscopy, it does not show a definite cause then manometry studies may have to be done to find out a confirmatory cause for odynophagia.
Symptoms of Odynophagia
Dysphagia is one symptom that most often goes hand in hand with Odynophagia. The individual may also complain of pain in the mouth which intensifies when the individual is swallowing.
If an individual has odynophagia on eating hot food or drinks and if it is present more in the mornings, it could be related to GERD.
Sometimes odynophagia may be accompanied by severe shortness of breath or dysphonia indicating a problem with the larynx or the voice box or some sort of obstruction of the throat.
How is Odynophagia Treated?
It is quite obvious that the treatment for odynophagia depends on what is actually causing the condition. Some methods used for treating odynophagia are:
- In case of ulcers causing odynophagia, they can be surgically removed
- If cancer is the cause of odynophagia, then further more aggressive treatment will be required including radiation and chemotherapy
- For infectious causes of odynophagia, antibiotics and decongestants may suffice for treatment of odynophagia
- Antacids like omeprazole can be used for individuals who have odynophagia which is caused due to gastroesophageal reflux disease and you may need to avoid caffeine, alcohol, and spicy food for some time as it may aggravate the reflux symptoms resulting in aggravation of odynophagia