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Tough to swallow

December 1, 2021

Difficult or painful swallowing could be a sign of something even more troubling.

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Everyone has had the experience of swallowing wrong or having food or drink go down the wrong "pipe." But if you have persistent trouble swallowing, like the sensation something is stuck in your throat, or if it’s painful to swallow, that could be a sign of an underlying problem.

"You don’t suddenly lose your ability to properly swallow with age. So, swallowing difficulties suggest something is not right and should be checked out," says Dr. Kyle Staller, a gastroenterologist with Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital. "Trouble swallowing also can cause people to decrease the amount of food they eat, or they switch out nutritious foods for unhealthier ones because they are just easier to swallow."

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