Why does my throat feel heavy when i swallow?

Are you choking on your spit every time you swallow? Do people mistake you for a frog because of that voice croak? Fear not, my dear reader! Today, we are going to discover the common reasons why your throat feels heavy when you swallow and how to alleviate it. So grab some tea, honey, or even tequila – who am I to judge – and let’s get started!

Anatomy 101: What Is Your Throat Made Of?

Before we dive into a hypothetical diagnosis of what may be causing your throat problems, let us first appreciate the complexity of our throats! The throat is divided into three parts: the nasopharynx where air enters through our nostrils (this part does not play much role in swallowing), followed by the oropharynx which includes our tonsils (whoever invented those was clearly on drugs), and finally ends with the laryngopharynx which marks the beginning of our esophagus.

The four main components involved in swallowing are motor nerves (brain signals); sensory nerves (registers food presence); muscles; and mucous membranes that line them all. It takes an incredible amount of coordination between these components for a normal swallow.

Signals Getting Crossed

So what happens when one aspect goes rogue? Dysphagia, also known as difficulty swallowing can occur at any age but more commonly seen in adults over 50 years old. This could mean trouble chewing food completely before trying to swallow or feeling like something is stuck while trying to ingest liquids or solids alike.

Fun fact: Dysphagia affects approximately 1 in 17 Americans alone! Now ain’t that special…

The Common Culprits Behind That Heavy Feeling

Let’s ease into this topic by starting with perhaps a lesser-known reason behind that tickle sensation:

Acid Reflux

We all know that acid reflux is as fun a time as sitting through a lecture about tax law. Not only does it cause heartburn, but it can also be an underlying factor for your throat discomfort. When stomach acid rises into the esophagus (yes that skinny tube we mentioned earlier) and sometimes into the upper throat, this causes inflammation or swelling of those sensitive areas.

Secret side note: This is what politicians mean by ‘draining the swamp’…

So how do you combat against Acid Reflux?

  • Eat smaller meals
  • Avoid eating just before bedtime
  • Limit alcohol and caffeine consumption… just kidding! who am I to recommend such behaviour
  • Don’t smoke – seriously stop it!
  • Wear loose clothes…very loose


Ever feel like blowing your nose is at Olympic level difficulty? Well congratulations my friend, we have now diagnosed you with another potential reason for heavy swallowing: chronic sinusitis.

When our sinuses are blocked due to infection, allergies or irritants; they tend to produce too much mucus which drips down our throats known as postnasal drip (all sexy stuff) causing unpleasant symptoms including tension across the nose bridge,gotta love feeling like Gandhi. While not directly affecting swallowing per se excessive congestion leads individuals to swallow more often.

The Treatment Plan:

So how can you treat chronic sinusitis?

  1. Drink lots of fluids
  2. Saline nasal spray irrigation
  3. Use medication prescribed specifically by your doctor rather than helpful neighbour Fred’s “tried-and-tested” method…

Tonsillitis… Oh No!

We previously mentioned these stupid lumps of flesh called tonsils hanging out in our throats ready to ruin our mood with a little thing called TONSILLITIS!

Why must they exist?? They serve no purpose after infancy!! What kind Gods allow such annoyances??

During a tonsillitis episode, our tonsils react to the bacteria or viruses causing not only throat pain but also that heavy swallowing sensation. They may even become so swollen that they obstruct normal breathing pathways according to their own awful judgement.

Steps Toward Recovery:

Here’s what you can do if ever plagued with tonsillitis… feel free to riot against your unfortunate fate as well

  • Gargle salt water like a banshee
  • Drink colder fluids for natural numbing
  • Eat soft foods like apple sauce or pudding! No judgment here!(Who doesn’t love pudding? You heathens!) Cast these useless organs aside and emerge from this experience victorious!!

Stress and Anxiety – Boo!!

Lastly, let’s examine some non-medical causes behind feeling a heaviness in one’s throat while trying to swallow…

Stress is common – no argument there. It is part of being human; however, when stress becomes constant it takes a significant toll on different aspects of health including digestion. Prolonged periods of anxiety cause muscle tension throughout our body which includes the muscles in our throats affecting how we swallow naturally (finally something else for us worry-worts to obsess about!).

Some good news finally!

Needless-to-say reducing overall anxiety will help alleviate physical symptoms.

In other words:

  • Cut back on those triple espresso shots first thing in the morning
  • Stretch (mindfully)
  • Complain about celestial conspiracy theories or seek therapy… first option encouraged

Although experiencing discomfort or difficulty swallowing can be distressing any one individual could have an array of reasons contributing towards where/how they are experiencing related sensations within their throat: lifestyle habits; personal anatomy; environmental irritants etc… Finding relief requires careful introspection/diagnosis by professionals but remember at least we learned just how complex yet rather bizarrely silly ‘tonsils’ actually are (Shake fists at the Gods who deemed them necessary).

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