Odynophagia: Definition, Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

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  • 0:00 What is Odynophagia?
  • 0:26 Causes of Odynophagia
  • 1:32 Symptoms of Odynophagia
  • 2:07 Treatment Options
  • 2:47 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Danielle Haak

Danielle has a PhD in Natural Resource Sciences and a MSc in Biological Sciences

Odynophagia is the fancy medical term for painful swallowing. Read this lesson to learn about the symptoms that occur, some of the many possible causes, and how each of these are treated.

What is Odynophagia?

Odynophagia is a long word that sounds intimidating. But you'll be happy to know, it's just the medical term for painful swallowing! Sometimes it gets confused with the condition called dysphagia, which is difficult swallowing. Odynophagia includes any pain associated with swallowing that's found in the mouth, throat, or esophagus (the tube connecting your mouth to your stomach).

Causes of Odynophagia

There are a LOT of possible causes for odynophagia, so let's just take a look at some of them. The most common cause is some type of infection in the mouth, tonsils, throat, epiglottis, or esophagus. This can include upper respiratory infections (like the cold or the flu), candidiasis, HIV, Epstein-Barr, the herpes simplex virus, or another type of bacterial, viral, or fungal irritant.

Another common cause is a foreign object stuck somewhere in the throat, especially small objects that are sharp. Typically when something is stuck in the throat, it will also cause difficulty swallowing, in addition to pain.

Non-infectious possibilities that cause inflammation like sores and ulcers can also be at fault. Other possibilities like tumors, esophageal disorders, acid reflux, injuries or trauma, arthritis, drug use, muscular disorders, and congenital abnormalities can also cause odynophagia. Like I said, there are a lot of possible causes, and they cover a pretty wide range of conditions.

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