One of the causes of dysphagia includes radiation therapy, a common treatment for mouth cancer, states Mayo Clinic. This cancer treatment can cause inflammation and scarring of the esophagus, possibly leading to pain and difficulty swallowing. Other causes of esophageal dysphagia are achalasia, diffuse spasm, foreign bodies obstructing the throat, esophageal tumors and scleroderma. Dysphagia is more common in older adults.
Individuals who experience regular difficulty swallowing should seek a doctor, recommends Mayo Clinic. This is especially true if the dysphagia is accompanied by weight loss, regurgitation and vomiting. Those who suffer impaired breathing require emergency medical attention. Besides pain and trouble swallowing, dysphagia symptoms include drooling, hoarseness, frequent heartburn, coughing when swallowing and a sensation of trapped food in the throat or behind the sternum. Treatment for esophageal dysphagia may include dilation, where the doctor uses an endoscope and a balloon to stretch the walls of the esophagus. Surgery and oral medications are other methods of treatment.
Oropharyngeal dysphagia occurs when pre-existing conditions atrophy the throat muscles, according to Mayo Clinic. Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis and other neurological disorders can cause oropharyngeal dysphagia, as can neurological damage resulting from a stroke or spinal cord injury. Exercise and learning new swallowing techniques can treat oropharyngeal dysphagia. In severe cases of dysphagia, liquid diets or feeding tubes may be necessary.