​​Dysphagia

Dysphagia is a disorder where it is difficult to gulp down food. You may find yourself putting extra effort in moving edible items, both solid and liquid, from your mouth to your stomach. There are times when swallowing is not possible or may cause a lot of discomfort. 

Often eating too fast or not chewing your food properly may cause difficulty in swallowing food, however regular Dysphagia may require seeing a doctor and proper medical treatment.

Men and women of all ages suffer through swallowing problems, though adults go through this more frequently. Both reasons and treatment for Dysphagia may vary and are interdependent on each other.​​​

Symptoms for Dysphagia may include some or all of the following:

  • Choking

  • Reflux.

  • Regurgitation (food coming up your throat).

  • Taking longer duration to swallow/chew food or liquid in the mouth.

  • Difficulty in pushing food or liquid to the back of the mouth.

  • Sticky sensation in the throat after swallowing food.

  • Difficulty in forming food or liquid into a soft ball in the mouth.

  • Food or liquid entering into the airway while swallowing eventually causing coughing or the need to clear throat.

  • Trouble with food entering the oesophagus.​

If you are regularly facing difficulty in swallowing, are experiencing weight loss, regurgitation or vomiting accompanies your dysphagia, seek immediate medical attention. 

If an obstruction interferes with breathing, call for help immediately. If you are unable to swallow because you feel that the food is stuck in your throat or chest, immediately rush to The Aga Khan University Hospital’s 24/7 Emergency and Acute Care Services.​

Your time with your doctor maybe limited, so make sure to prepare for your visit beforehand. 

Here are some tips to help get you started.

Our world-renowned physicians have undergone extensive training and are experts at treating all conditions relating to throat, swallowing and other Otolaryngology diseases.

Your treatment team at the Eye and ENT service line at The Aga Khan University Hospital may ask you to perform a complete swallowing test, in addition to a standard throat and voice box examination. 

This may include a test performed in the office, where we observe how you swallow with a flexible scope in your nose or with x-rays of your neck and chest while swallowing.  This combination of multiple examinations and swallow studies will determine if your Dysphagia is due to a problem in your throat, voice box or oesophagus.​

We assure quality health care in all our service lines. As a patient of The Aga Khan University Hospital, you will have access to the broadest possible range of solutions from skilled, experienced doctors, nurses and technicians, options you may not have in your home town or anywhere else in Pakistan. Medical and surgical treatments are available ranging from screenings to the most complex surgeries. For the treatment of Dysphagia or other related swallowing problems our internationally trained team, depending upon your working diagnosis, will discuss different treatment options available:​

  • ​Reflux is treated with lifestyle modifications and medication. However, if your reflux is severe, or have oesophagus issues, you may be referred to a gastroenterologist for further testing and evaluation.

  • Problems with vocal cord movement can often be treated to improve the safety of your swallowing at the Eye and ENT service line at The Aga Khan University Hospital. 

  • Issues such as Zenker’s diverticulum and other problems with the cricopharyngeus muscle are often addressed with surgery. There are different surgeries available with different risks, so your treatment team will discuss which options are appropriate for you.

  • In the operating room to improve your ability to swallow solid foods, strictures in the throat or oesophagus may be dilated.

Coordinated care with a gastroenterologist is often beneficial.

Moreover, if conditions that are treatable with medicine or surgery are ruled out, your treatment team at the Eyes and ENT service line at The Aga Khan University Hospital , may recommend continued swallowing therapy to ensure the foods you are eating are safe in order to maximize your chances of swallowing rehabilitation. ​

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers various support services to help with managing or recovering from the disease or condition. These include but are not limited to nutrition, physiotherapy, rehabilitation, specialized clinics and some patient support groups. Your doctor or nurse will advise you accordingly.

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers financial assistance to those who are in need and fulfil the eligibility criteria. For further information, you can contact the Patient Welfare Department. You can find the contact number of the Patient Welfare Department in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.​

The financial counselling staff is available during office hours, at the main PBSD (Patient Business Services Department), to answer your financial queries on treatments’ costs and authorize admissions on partial deposit as per hospital policies allow. The financial counsellor in the emergency room is open 24/7. You can find the contact number of the Patient Business Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.​

Your doctor and or nurse will give you specific instructions about the prescribed medication. Please ensure that you take or use the prescribed medicine as advised. It can be dangerous to your health if you self-prescribe. Please inform the doctor or nurse beforehand if you have experienced any adverse reactions to any medications in the past. If you experience any symptoms of drug poisoning, overdose or severe reaction please contact the Pharmacy Service at The Aga Khan University Hospital immediately. You can find the contact number of the Pharmacy Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.​




The information provided on our website is for educational purposes and not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or other healthcare professional provider.