Treatments for Dysphagia

People who have persistent trouble swallowing may consider undergoing treatment. The cause of the problem will determine the type of treatment. The most common dysphagia treatments are listed below.

  • Exercises can strengthen the muscles in the throat and chest involved with swallowing. A speech pathologist or other experienced medical professional may be able to teach these exercises.
  • Swallowing techniques, ranging from positioning the head and neck correctly to specific ways to place food in the mouth, can be helpful for people with musculoskeletal issues. Researchers have found the “lean forward method” and the “pop-bottle method” to help many people.3

    Read more about these techniques for swallowing pills: Relieving Pain When Swallowing Pills Is Difficult

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  • Esophageal dilation, a medical procedure that expands the esophagus, can create more space for food to be swallowed.
  • Surgery may be appropriate for people who have certain conditions, such as a tumor or pharyngeal diverticula.
  • Medications can be used to treat acid reflux (GERD) or prevent spasms of the esophagus.

In severe cases, treatment may not be possible or successful, and in these cases the person may need to adjust to a liquid diet or use a feeding tube.


  1. Schiele JT, Schneider H, Quinzler R, Reich G, Haefeli WE. Two Techniques to Make Swallowing Pills Easier. Annals of Family Medicine. 2014;12(6):550-552. doi:10.1370/afm.1693.
Written by Thomas Cohn, MD