When there is food caught in the esophagus, the muscles do not relax and therefore the food cannot pass through the esophagus, according to the National Institutes of Health. When food is caught in the esophagus, a person can choke and have difficulty breathing or swallowing.
When food is caught, it does not flow from the mouth through the esophagus and into the stomach as it should. If a person has difficulty with food getting stuck in the esophagus, he may have a condition such as achalasia or diffuse spasm, according to the National Institutes of Health. Achalasia is when the muscle in the lower esophageal sphincter cannot relax to allow food to pass. Diffuse spasm causes the lower esophagus to spasm without coordination and makes it difficult to swallow, according to the Mayo Clinic. Other causes include esophageal stricture, esophageal tumors, foreign bodies and gastroesophageal reflux disease.