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Dysphagia vs. Dyspepsia — What's the Difference?

By Urooj Arif & Fiza Rafique — Updated on March 6, 2024
Dysphagia involves difficulty swallowing, while dyspepsia refers to indigestion, highlighting differences in digestive tract issues.
Dysphagia vs. Dyspepsia — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Dysphagia and Dyspepsia


Key Differences

Dysphagia is a condition characterized by difficulty in swallowing, which may result from issues in the throat or esophagus. On the other hand, dyspepsia, often known as indigestion, involves discomfort or pain in the upper abdomen, indicating problems with digesting food.
While dysphagia can lead to problems like coughing or choking during eating, dyspepsia typically manifests through symptoms such as bloating, nausea, and belching. These differences underline the distinct areas of the digestive system they affect and their subsequent symptoms.
Dysphagia may require treatments ranging from dietary changes to surgery, depending on its severity and underlying cause. In contrast, dyspepsia is often managed with lifestyle modifications and over-the-counter medications, aiming to alleviate discomfort and improve digestion.
The causes of dysphagia include neurological disorders, esophageal narrowing, or muscle problems, whereas dyspepsia can be caused by eating too much, too quickly, certain medications, or conditions like gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
Understanding the difference between dysphagia and dyspepsia is crucial for appropriate diagnosis and treatment, as both conditions necessitate distinct approaches to manage their specific symptoms and underlying causes.

Comparison Chart


Difficulty in swallowing.
Indigestion or discomfort in the upper abdomen.

Primary Symptoms

Coughing, choking during eating, pain while swallowing.
Bloating, nausea, belching, upper abdominal pain.

Main Causes

Neurological disorders, esophageal issues, muscle problems.
Overeating, rapid eating, certain medications, GERD.


Dietary changes, swallowing therapy, surgery.
Lifestyle modifications, antacids, dietary changes.

Affected Area

Throat or esophagus.
Upper digestive system, mainly the stomach.

Compare with Definitions


Difficulty swallowing.
He experienced dysphagia, struggling to swallow even liquids.


Can be a symptom of other conditions.
Her dyspepsia was a sign of gastroesophageal reflux disease.


A symptom of underlying conditions.
Dysphagia in her case was due to a neurological disorder.


Indigestion or discomfort in the upper abdomen.
After eating too quickly, he felt an immediate sense of dyspepsia.


Affects quality of life.
Dysphagia significantly impacted her daily life, making meal times challenging.


Affects daily comfort.
Chronic dyspepsia made it difficult for her to enjoy meals.


Can lead to aspiration.
The severity of his dysphagia increased the risk of aspiration pneumonia.


Often managed with lifestyle changes.
To alleviate his dyspepsia, he avoided spicy foods.


Requires a multidisciplinary approach.
Managing dysphagia involved dietary adjustments and speech therapy.


May involve over-the-counter treatments.
She used antacids to manage her dyspepsia symptoms.


Dysphagia is difficulty in swallowing. Although classified under "symptoms and signs" in ICD-10, in some contexts it is classified as a condition in its own right.It may be a sensation that suggests difficulty in the passage of solids or liquids from the mouth to the stomach, a lack of pharyngeal sensation or various other inadequacies of the swallowing mechanism.


Disturbed digestion; indigestion.


Difficulty or discomfort in swallowing, as a symptom of disease
Progressive dysphagia


(pathology) Any mild disorder of digestion, characterised by stomach pain, discomfort, heartburn and nausea, often following a meal.


Difficulty in swallowing.


A kind of indigestion; a state of the stomach in which its functions are disturbed, without the presence of other diseases, or, if others are present, they are of minor importance. Its symptoms are loss of appetite, nausea, heartburn, acrid or fetid eructations, a sense of weight or fullness in the stomach, etc.


(pathology) Difficulty in swallowing.


A disorder of digestive function characterized by discomfort or heartburn or nausea


Difficulty in swallowing.




Condition in which swallowing is difficult or painful

Common Curiosities

What causes dyspepsia?

Causes of dyspepsia include overeating, rapid eating, certain medications, and conditions like GERD.

Can dyspepsia be prevented?

Yes, by eating slowly, avoiding trigger foods, and managing stress.

Is dysphagia a sign of a serious condition?

It can be, as it's sometimes related to neurological disorders or esophageal diseases.

How can I differentiate between dysphagia and dyspepsia?

Dysphagia involves swallowing difficulties, whereas dyspepsia is related to indigestion.

Can dysphagia lead to other health issues?

Yes, such as malnutrition, dehydration, and aspiration pneumonia.

Are there foods that should be avoided with dyspepsia?

Spicy, fatty, and acidic foods are often recommended to be avoided.

How common is dyspepsia?

It's very common, affecting about 25% of the population at some point.

What is dysphagia?

Dysphagia is a condition characterized by difficulty in swallowing.

How is dysphagia treated?

Treatment can include dietary changes, swallowing therapy, and possibly surgery.

Are there lifestyle changes that help with dyspepsia?

Yes, including eating smaller meals, reducing fatty foods, and not lying down immediately after eating.

Is dyspepsia related to stress?

Stress can exacerbate dyspepsia symptoms in some individuals.

Can children have dysphagia or dyspepsia?

Yes, both conditions can occur in children, but causes and treatments may differ from youngs.

What tests are used to diagnose dysphagia?

Barium swallow, endoscopy, and manometry can be used for diagnosis.

Does dysphagia affect both solids and liquids?

Yes, it can affect the ability to swallow both solids and liquids.

Can both dysphagia and dyspepsia be symptoms of GERD?

Yes, GERD can manifest as both dysphagia and dyspepsia.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Urooj Arif
Urooj is a skilled content writer at Ask Difference, known for her exceptional ability to simplify complex topics into engaging and informative content. With a passion for research and a flair for clear, concise writing, she consistently delivers articles that resonate with our diverse audience.
Co-written by
Fiza Rafique
Fiza Rafique is a skilled content writer at, where she meticulously refines and enhances written pieces. Drawing from her vast editorial expertise, Fiza ensures clarity, accuracy, and precision in every article. Passionate about language, she continually seeks to elevate the quality of content for readers worldwide.

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