Odynophagia causes

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]; Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Sunny Kumar MD [2]


The causes of odynophagia are disorders effecting sensory nerves of esophagus and pharynx.


Following are the causes of odynophagia.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15][16][17][18][19]

Common Causes

Less common causes :

Following are less common causes divided on basis of anatomical level of location.

Disorders of esophagus:

  1. Mechanical causes:

Following is the list of disorders which cause pain on swallowing due to mass effect or pressure on esophagus while food passes through it:

  • Achalasia cardia
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Myasthenia gravis
  • Botulism
  •  Goiter
  • Diabetic neuropathy
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Riedel thyroiditis
  •  Barrett's oesophagus
  • Diverticulum
  • Esophageal achalasia
  • Esophageal atresia
  • Esophageal spasm
  • Esophageal stricture
  • Fibrosis
  • Intramural pseudodiverticulosis
  • Peptic stenosis
  • Schatzki ring
  • Myoneurogastrointestinal encephalopathy syndrome
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
  • Brainstem stroke
  • Bulbar palsy
  • Central vagal nucleus lesion
  • Cerebrovascular accident
  • Guillain-Barre syndrome
  • Huntington's chorea
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Neuroferritinopathy
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Polyradiculitis
  • Syringobulbia
  • Vagal disorder
  • Diabetic neuropathy
  • Poliomyelitis
  • Plummer-Vinson Syndrome
  • Bronchial carcinoma
  • Carcinoma of the vocal tract
  • Carotid body tumor
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Gastric tumors
  • Laryngeal cancer
  • Leiomyoma
  • Bronchial carcinoma
  • Esophageal trauma
  • Aspiration of foreign body

2. Inflammatory causes:

Following is the list of disorders which cause pain on swallowing due to irritation of nerves because of inflamed mucosa of esophagus while food passes through it:

  • Chemical burns
  • Ibandronate
  • Stevens-Johnson Syndrome
  •  Esophagitis
  • Gastritis
  • Gastroesophageal reflux
  • Crohn's disease
  • Eosinophilic esophagitis
  • Radiation esophagitis
  • Abscesses
  • Candidiasis
  • Chagas Disease
  • Cytomegalovirus
  • Esophageal moniliasis
  • Reflux esophagitis
  • Typhoid fever
  • Allergic swelling
  • Behcet's Syndrome
  • CREST syndrome
  • Dermatomyositis
  • Esophageal sarcoidosis
  • Inclusion body myositis
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
  • Xerostomia
  • Alcoholism

Disorders of pharynx

  1. Mechanical causes:

Following is the list of disorders which cause pain on swallowing due to mass effect or pressure on phyarynx while food passes through it:

  • Zenkers diverticulum
  • Cricopharyngeal spasm
  • Oral submucous fibrosis
  • Palatoplegia
  • Palate cancer
  • Supraglottic laryngeal cancer
  • Xerostomia
  • Agranulocytosis
  • Lymphadenopathy
  • Elongated styloid process
  • Extreme spinal curvature
  • Global hystericus
  • Schatzki ring
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
  • Brainstem stroke
  • Bulbar palsy
  • Central hypoglossal nerve paralysis
  • Central vagal nucleus lesion
  • Cerebrovascular accident
  • Guillain-Barre syndrome
  • Huntington's chorea
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Myoneurogastrointestinal encephalopathy syndrome
  • Neuroferritinopathy
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Polyradiculitis
  • Vagal disorder
  • Diabetic neuropathy
  • Bronchial carcinoma
  • Carcinoma of the vocal tract
  • Hypopharyngeal cancer
  • Laryngeal cancer
  • Leiomyoma
  • Oral cancer
  • Palate cancer
  • Supraglottic laryngeal cancer

2.Inflammatory causes:

Following is the list of disorders which cause pain on swallowing due to irritation of nerves because of inflamed mucosa of phyranx while food passes through it:

  • Pharyngitis
  • Tonsillitis
  • Laryngitis
  •  Epiglottitis
  • Glossitis
  •  Retropharyngeal absces
  • Acute pharyngitis
  • Adenoiditis
  • Angina tonsillaris
  • Diphtheria
  • Herpangina
  • Herpes simplex virus (HSV)
  • Herpes stomatitis
  • Mononucleosis
  • Mumps
  • Oral candidiasis
  • Paracoccidioidomycosis
  • Poliomyelitis
  • Scarlet Fever
  • Tonsillar abscess
  • Tooth infection

Causes by Organ System

Cardiovascular Aortic aneurysm, Double aortic arch, Enlarged left atrium, Mediastinitis, Mitral valve stenosis
Chemical / poisoning Botulism, Chemical burns
Dermatologic Scleroderma
Drug Side Effect ibandronate, Stevens-Johnson Syndrome
Ear Nose Throat Cricopharyngeal spasm, Epiglottitis, Esophagotracheal fistula, Glossitis, Goiter, Gum disease, Laryngitis, Oral submucous fibrosis, Oral ulcers, Palatoplegia, Stomatitis, Zenker's Diverticulum, Herpangina, Retropharyngeal abscess, Palate cancer, Supraglottic laryngeal cancer , Xerostomia
Endocrine Diabetic neuropathy, Hyperthyroidism, Hypothyroidism, Riedel thyroiditis
Environmental No underlying causes
Gastroenterologic Achalasia, Barrett's oesophagus, Diverticulum, Esophageal achalasia, Esophageal atresia, Esophageal spasm, Esophageal stricture, Esophagitis, Fibrosis, Gastritis, Gastroesophageal reflux, Intramural pseudodiverticulosis, Peptic stenosis, Schatzki ring, Myoneurogastrointestinal encephalopathy syndrome, Crohn's disease, Eosinophilic esophagitis
Genetic Opitz-Frias syndrome
Hematologic Agranulocytosis, Lymphadenopathy
Iatrogenic Radiation esophagitis
Infectious Disease Abscesses, Acute pharyngitis, Adenoiditis, Angina tonsillaris, Candidiasis, Chagas Disease, Cytomegalovirus, Diphtheria, Esophageal moniliasis, Flu, Herpangina, Herpes simplex virus (HSV), Herpes stomatitis, HIV/AIDS, Mononucleosis, Mumps, Oral candidiasis, Paracoccidioidomycosis, Pharyngitis, Poliomyelitis, Rabies, Reflux esophagitis, Respiratory tract infections, Retropharyngeal abscess, Scarlet Fever, Tetanus, Tonsillar abscess, Tooth infection, Typhoid fever
Musculoskeletal / Ortho Elongated styloid process, Extreme spinal curvature, Global hystericus, Schatzki ring, Leiomyoma, Dermatomyositis, Myasthenia Gravis
Neurologic Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), Brainstem stroke, Bulbar palsy, Central hypoglossal nerve paralysis, Central vagal nucleus lesion, Cerebrovascular accident, Guillain-Barre syndrome, Huntington's chorea, Multiple Sclerosis, Myoneurogastrointestinal encephalopathy syndrome, Neuroferritinopathy, Peripheral neuropathy, Polyradiculitis, Syringobulbia, Vagal disorder, Diabetic neuropathy, Poliomyelitis
Nutritional / Metabolic Gaucher's disease, Plummer-Vinson Syndrome
Obstetric/Gynecologic No underlying causes
Oncologic Bronchial carcinoma, Carcinoma of the vocal tract, Carotid body tumor, Esophageal cancer, Gastric tumors, Hypopharyngeal cancer, Laryngeal cancer, Leiomyoma, Oral cancer, Palate cancer, Paraneoplastic syndrome, Supraglottic laryngeal cancer
Opthalmologic No underlying causes
Overdose / Toxicity No underlying causes
Psychiatric Anxiety disorders
Pulmonary Bronchial carcinoma
Renal / Electrolyte No underlying causes
Rheum / Immune / Allergy Allergic swelling, Amyloidosis, Behcet's Syndrome, CREST syndrome , Crohn's disease, Dermatomyositis, Eosinophilic esophagitis, Esophageal sarcoidosis, Graft versus host reaction, Inclusion body myositis, Myasthenia Gravis, Parkinson's Disease, Riedel thyroiditis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Scleroderma, Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic sclerosis, Xerostomia
Sexual No underlying causes
Trauma Esophageal trauma
Urologic No underlying causes
Dental No underlying causes
Miscellaneous Alcoholism, Aspiration of foreign body

Causes in Alphabetical Order [20] [21]


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  2. So H, Park BH, Jang K, Baek H, Kim YJ (2018). "Esophagogastric Crohn's Disease Manifested by Life-Threatening Odynophagia and Chest Pain: a Case Report". J Korean Med Sci. 33 (4): e30. doi:10.3346/jkms.2018.33.e30. PMC 5760815. PMID 29318797.
  3. Eskander A, Monteiro E, O'Connell D, Taylor SM, Canadian Association of Head and Neck Surgical Oncology (CAHNSO) (2018). "Head and Neck Surgical Oncology Choosing Wisely Campaign: imaging for patients with hoarseness, fine needle aspiration for neck mass, and ultrasound for odynophagia". J Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 47 (1): 2. doi:10.1186/s40463-017-0251-x. PMC 5759226. PMID 29310719.
  4. Gonzales Zamora JA, Espinoza LA (2017). "Histoplasma and Cytomegalovirus Coinfection of the Gastrointestinal Tract in a Patient with AIDS: A Case Report and Review of the Literature". Diseases. 5 (4). doi:10.3390/diseases5040030. PMC 5750541. PMID 29292712.
  5. Miranda C, Jaker MA, Fitzhugh-Kull VA, Dever LL (2018). "Oropharyngeal histoplasmosis: The diagnosis lies in the biopsy". IDCases. 11: 33–35. doi:10.1016/j.idcr.2017.12.005. PMC 5738199. PMID 29276680.
  6. Jalisi S, Jamal BT, Grillone GA (2017). "Surgical Management of Long-standing Eagle's Syndrome". Ann Maxillofac Surg. 7 (2): 232–236. doi:10.4103/ams.ams_53_17. PMC 5717900. PMID 29264291.
  7. Jalisi S, Sakai O, Jamal BT, Mardirossian V (2017). "Features of Prevertebral Disease in Patients Presenting to a Head and Neck Surgery Clinic with Neck Pain". Ann Maxillofac Surg. 7 (2): 228–231. doi:10.4103/ams.ams_54_17. PMC 5717899. PMID 29264290.
  8. Marques S, Carmo J, Pinto D, Bispo M, Ramos S, Chagas C (2017). "Cytomegalovirus Disease of the Upper Gastrointestinal Tract: A 10-Year Retrospective Study". GE Port J Gastroenterol. 24 (6): 262–268. doi:10.1159/000479232. PMC 5731150. PMID 29255766.
  9. Rama-López J, Tomás-Fernandez M, García-Garza C, Martínez-Madrigal M (2018). "Pharyngeal perforation after anterior cervical spine surgery treated by transoral endoscopic surgery". Head Neck. 40 (2): E13–E16. doi:10.1002/hed.25030. PMID 29206327.
  10. Kato MG, Isaac MJ, Gillespie MB, O'Rourke AK (2018). "The Incidence and Characterization of Globus Sensation, Dysphagia, and Odynophagia Following Surgery for Obstructive Sleep Apnea". J Clin Sleep Med. 14 (1): 127–132. doi:10.5664/jcsm.6898. PMC 5734881. PMID 29198289.
  11. Teixeira C, Alves AL, Cremers I (2018). "Esophageal lichen planus: a rare case". Rev Esp Enferm Dig. 110 (1): 67–68. doi:10.17235/reed.2017.5332/2017. PMID 29168645.
  12. Chen L, Lai Y, Dong L, Kang S, Chen X (2017). "Polysaccharides from Citrus grandis L. Osbeck suppress inflammation and relieve chronic pharyngitis". Microb Pathog. 113: 365–371. doi:10.1016/j.micpath.2017.11.018. PMID 29146495.
  13. Kim YJ, Park JY, Choi KY, Moon BJ, Lee JK (2017). "Case reports about an overlooked cause of neck pain: calcific tendinitis of the longus colli: Case reports". Medicine (Baltimore). 96 (46): e8343. doi:10.1097/MD.0000000000008343. PMC 5704790. PMID 29145245.
  14. Alamoudi U, Al-Sayed AA, AlSallumi Y, Rigby MH, Taylor SM, Hart RD; et al. (2017). "Acute calcific tendinitis of the longus colli muscle masquerading as a retropharyngeal abscess: A case report and review of the literature". Int J Surg Case Rep. 41: 343–346. doi:10.1016/j.ijscr.2017.10.063. PMC 5686463. PMID 29145108.
  15. Sopeña B, Limeres J, García-Caballero L, Diniz-Freitas M, Seoane J, Diz P (2018). "A Dramatic Case of Odynophagia". Dysphagia. 33 (1): 133–135. doi:10.1007/s00455-017-9861-8. PMID 29128948.
  16. Fukuda S, Watanabe N, Domen T, Ishioka M, Sawaguchi M, Ohba R; et al. (2018). "A case of esophageal actinomycosis with a unique morphology presenting as a refractory ulcer". Clin J Gastroenterol. 11 (1): 38–41. doi:10.1007/s12328-017-0797-1. PMID 29124648.
  17. Chi TH, Hung CC, Chen RF, Yuan CH, Chen JC (2017). "Spontaneous retropharyngeal emphysema: A case report". Niger J Clin Pract. 20 (9): 1213–1215. doi:10.4103/njcp.njcp_3_16. PMID 29072250.
  18. Jovov B, Reed CC, Shaheen NJ, Pruitt A, Ferrell K, Orlando GS; et al. (2017). "Fragments of e-Cadherin as Biomarkers of Non-erosive Reflux Disease". Dig Dis Sci. doi:10.1007/s10620-017-4815-4. PMID 29071486.
  19. Althuwaini S, Bamehriz F, Aldohayan A, Alshammari W, Alhaidar S, Alotaibi M; et al. (2017). "Prevalence and Predictors of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease After Laparoscopic Sleeve Gastrectomy". Obes Surg. doi:10.1007/s11695-017-2971-4. PMID 29043549.
  20. Sailer, Christian, Wasner, Susanne. Differential Diagnosis Pocket. Hermosa Beach, CA: Borm Bruckmeir Publishing LLC, 2002:77 ISBN 1591032016
  21. Kahan, Scott, Smith, Ellen G. In A Page: Signs and Symptoms. Malden, Massachusetts: Blackwell Publishing, 2004:68 ISBN 140510368X
  22. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0002348/
  23. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3018671/
  24. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6875362
  25. http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/mitochondrial-neurogastrointestinal-encephalopathy-disease
  26. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK1141/
  27. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK1523/

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