Swallowing is a natural phenomenon that takes over after chewing the food to get it inside the mouth. Anatomically the tongue, throat, pharynx and larynx, along with all the oral cavity muscles, take part in this. The mush of food straight goes from the mouth to the esophagus. Sometimes, you may feel pain in the chest while swallowing, and you might wonder, why does it hurt to swallow? We have your answer.

Usually, pain or discomfort felt in the chest after swallowing food is because the size of mush engulfed is larger than your esophagus can easily pass through. Moreover, the same feeling is felt when the food is too hot, and it goes down burning.

Causes Of Chest Pain While Swallowing Food

Pain when swallowing food could be because of some underlying conditions apart from the ones discussed in earlier paragraphs; let us have a look at those.


Some drugs may cause a condition known as esophagitis. And the phenomenon is named drug-induced or pill esophagitis. The issue typically arises after taking the pill between several hours to 10 days on a whole.

You should know that drug-induced esophagitis starts suddenly and shows symptoms that include:

  • heartburn
  • chest pain after eating
  • discomfort or pain while swallowing

A few of the reasons for this condition are having pills without drinking enough water, taking it while lying down or before going to sleep increases irritation. Generally, the condition reverses itself after the patient stops taking the medication that causes it.

Irritation Due To Injury

At times, the esophagus, which is a connecting point between the mouth and stomach, undergoes inflammation or may get damaged; it can cause pain in the chest when swallowing.

Short-term irritation tends to get better without external involvement; however, med intake or a chronic health condition may also be the reason why the chest hurts after eating.

Esophageal motility disorders

This disorder characterises esophageal muscles not functioning to move the bolus from the mouth towards the stomach; this results in the food being stuck leading to chest pain when eating meals.

Esophageal motility disorders are:

  • Achalasia
  • Hyper contractile or “jackhammer” esophagus
  • Opioid-induced dysmotility

Eosinophilic esophagitis

It is an uncommon, chronic condition that results in esophageal inflammation. The main culprit behind this is eosinophils. These white blood cells can build up and damage the tissues.

No cure for EOE is available at the moment; however, steroids can reduce esophagitis symptoms. You can always opt for allergy testing to determine if an allergen may be the reason for inflammation-causing chest pain when swallowing food or water.

Esophageal Cancer

You may have chest pain in the esophagus due to esophageal cancer. This condition may show up with symptoms such as

  • chest pain while swallowing or eating in general
  • rapid unexplained weight loss
  • a hoarse voice
  • chronic cough
  • nausea and vomiting
  • bleeding in the esophagus resulting in black specks in poop

Final Words

Treating the underlying condition is the best strategy to deal with chest pain while eating or swallowing. Make sure that you steer clear of hasty eating habits to avoid engulfing large size food bolus that results in hurting the chest when eating.

Dealing with pain in the chest can be daunting; we urge you not to take this lightly and head to Epic Heart and Vascular Center for a checkup. Visit us or call to make an appointment at Houston location 832 432 1951 and 832 952 1951 Willowbrook locations.