Abnormal Propulsion of Food
(Esophageal Motility Disorders)
(See also Overview of the Esophagus.)
The movement of food from mouth to stomach requires normal and coordinated action of the mouth and throat, propulsive waves of muscular contractions of the esophagus (called peristalsis), and relaxation of the sphincters (the bands of muscle that need to open so that food can pass from the esophagus into the stomach).
A problem with any of these functions can cause difficulty swallowing (dysphagia), heartburn, chest pain, regurgitation (the spitting up of food from the esophagus or stomach without nausea or forceful contractions of abdominal muscles), vomiting, or aspiration of food (sucking food into the airways when inhaling).
Disorders of the throat also can cause problems with the movement of food (see Propulsion Disorders of the Throat).
The main causes of abnormal propulsion of food are movement (motility) disorders of the esophagus. The most common disorders include
Treatment of abnormal propulsion of food depends on the cause.