Something is definitely wrong if food feels like pieces of glass when you swallow.

Unless you’re swallowing pistachio shells, there is no normal reason for any food – even ground-up hard candy – to feel sharp or like glass fragments when you swallow.

“Pain when swallowing is what we call in medicine odynophagia,” says Dr. Caterina Oneto, MD, a gastroenterologist and internal medicine specialist with NYU Langone Health.

“It can be caused by several conditions, but they all have in common the fact that there is inflammation of the esophagus,” continues Dr. Oneto.

“This can be caused by an infection (viral or sometimes fungal), or by irritation of the esophagus caused by a medication getting stuck in the esophagus, called ‘pill esophagitis,’ or simply by acid reflux esophagitis when it’s severe and untreated.”

Acid reflex that goes untreated can develop into a condition called Barrett’s esophagus, which is a risk factor for esophageal cancer.

In fact, esophageal cancer — which has an overall five-year survival rate of only 19.2 percent — may cause pain as food goes down.

If swallowing food makes you envision little pieces of glass going down your throat, it’s definitely time to see a gastroenterologist instead of suffering with anxiety every time you’re about to eat.

dr. onetoDr. Oneto’s expertise includes colonoscopy, endoscopy and liver and pancreatic disease, and her special interests include colon cancer screening and prevention, and management of GERD, IBS and obesity.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.
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