#HLWDK Daily Health Tips: Pain On Swallowing Food

Q: Dr, I also notice I usually feel pain when swallowing food from my throat down to my stomach. Each time I want to eat, I will first feel pain on my cheeks.

A: The symptoms you describe call for a little biology class 🙂

When we eat, the food moves down from the mouth, to the esophagus (the food pipe) and into the stomach. There is a sphincter (you can look at it as a valve or control) at the lower end of the esophagus just before the stomach. This valve usually allows food to move in one direction: from the esophagus to the stomach. However, in people with Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), this valve called Lower Esophageal Sphincter allows food to also move back from the stomach to the esophagus. This food, which contains acid from the stomach, causes burning sensations in the esophagus described as heartburn. A condition called hiatal hernia increases the chances of GERD and is usually seen in obese people, pregnant women and during situations that increase the pressure in the abdomen like coughing, sneezing etc.

Symptoms typically include burning sensation in the chest after eating, difficulty with swallowing, and sensation of having a lump in the throat, chest pain and regurgitation of food or sour-tasting fluid. If your symptoms are worse at night, you could also have disrupted sleep and chronic cough.

Lifestyle factors that play a role in GERD include certain foods like fatty, fried foods, alcohol, minty foods etc, smoking, eating huge meals, lying down immediately after a meal etc

To avoid these eat smaller meals and try not to lie down until about 3 hours after a meal, keep your weight within normal limits and give tight clothes a rest 😀 Avoid foods that act as triggers and stay off smoking. Elevate the feet of your bed by using blocks under the bed. Do not use pillows to achieve this as it just increases pressure in the stomach and worsens the problem.
Other treatment modalities include medications and surgery. First course of action is to go see your doctor who will make a definitive diagnosis and advice on what works best for you.

All the best

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