Swollen outer throat, Difficulty swallowing, numb/no sensation when swallowing

Posted , 27 users are following.

Hi all,

I have had this issue for a few months now. Basically my throat as in the larnyx, adams, apple, thyroid area outside of the throat seems to swell up and became extremely painful to swallow, so this is other throat rather then inside the throat like a sore throat. Anyway, this seemed to flare up and I was having clicking and cracking in my throat when swallowing. One day I was eating some bread and there was loud crack when I swallowed, after that swalloing was extremely painful, and it was difficult to get food down, this was all still outer throat, from reading I think it would probably be the thyroid cartilage and larynx that were swollen and somehow causing these issues. I could deal with the pain but then one morning I woke up and my throat now what felt like the inside of my throat had gone completely numb, literally like I had sucked on a numbing throat sweet. It also feels like my swallow mechinism is somehow not working correctly, like I can swallow but there is no sensation and it feels like the normal movement of the throat cartilidge is now somehow stuck and not moving freely when I swallow.

Anyway I went to the doctors who brushed it off as nothing the first couple of times, then I saw a different doctor and explained what had happened and he refered me to the ENT specialist. I have seen the ENT specialist and he has diagnosed me with silent Reflux, basically acid reflux but without the heartburn etc. I dont think I agree with this diagnosis and want to get to the bottom of the numb malfuctioning swallow as the numb sensation is so strange and horrible it is driving me mad with anxiety.

I do not really have any symptoms of slient reflux/acid reflux. The way these issues started all on my outer throat would not match acid reflux either, as well as the fact my throat went numb so suddenly. Maybe it isnt numb and it is just that my swollow mechanism is not working correctly but it sure feels numb. It literally feels like nothing happens when I swallow, there is no recognition or sensation when I swallow unless I get a click noise which i assume is the swollen cartilge getting caught somehow. The area is still swollen from top of neck/throat to the bottom. As I have been diagnosed with reflux doctors will just now fob me off without any sort of solution. I am taking the medication for this so called silent reflux I have just to see if there is any change but there has been none so far. If it is silent reflux how would I even no if medication is working as I have no symptoms like heartburn, sort throat, voice issues or anything.

Anyway sorry for such a long post, has anyone else experienced something like this? Does anyone have any idea what it could be and what I can do about it?


2 likes, 40 replies

40 Replies

Prev Next
  • Posted

    Hi everyone, I'm a 29 year old male that is suffering from a lot of similar symptoms as most. I am ready to give up... sad

    I have had a multitude of tests and seen many different doctors but was also told it was GERD and anxiety/depression.

    I am going to see my GP today, and going in for a chiropractic appt later today as well.

    I hope everyone here to best of luck and health in the future.

    • Posted

      I think that the persisrtent reflux does need to be addressed as it can be a significant health problem.   There are some who suffer from persistent reflux for whom normal medication does not seem to work, and you may have to think about asking to be referred to a reflux specialist for a second opinion, somebody like Prof Stephen Attwood or Anthony Hopkins.   A level of anxiety if you suffer this is natural, but it would be sensible to address the anxiety and tension as a separate issue, perhaps through relaxation therapy, mindfulness or some other kind of approach that suits you best.
  • Posted

    you need a swallowing test done.  Sorry I have achalesia and 2 of the 3 types of dysphagia.  Look it up and I am sure you will see that your symptoms match a lot of dysphagia symptoms.  Problem is it is mainly seen in older patients with parkinsons, or had a stroke or people in the decline of their MS.  I have MS but I am nowhere near the decline in MS.  It was why I was so hard to diagnose.  But I found a great GI, did testing and sent me to GI specialist who deal with these disease.  Good luck.  But that is something I would request, painless, drink barium, eat pudding with barium and have an answer then and there.  No need to wait.  PS it's a pretty cool test to watch because you can see the xrays as your chewing.  I found it fasinating. 

  • Posted

    Hello I also have a lot of these symptoms and more. It has went on for a couple of years. It's has absolutely drove me crazy. It has consumed me literally. I feel your pain.

  • Posted

    Thank you to everyone who has replyed to my orignal post, I really appreciate it.

    It is now about 18 months on from when I orignally made the post about this throat issue and i'm sorry to say but my throat is the same as it was. At least one postive is that it hasn't got worse and I have gotten used to it somewhat but I am still left with the complete lack of sensation when swallowing or a clicking and cracking in the throat when I tilt my head down and swallow. 

    I am 99% sure there is some sort of swelling or blockage in there or some sort of damaged ligament that is preventing my swallow mechanism from moving correctly. It feels as though it gets jammed at the top of the upward movement of the swollow. When I tilt my head forward and swallow I feel the cartilage in the thraot click past something which it isnt able to do when my head is in the up right position. 

    I have seen 2 ENT's and a speech/swallow therapist and none of them can work out what is going on. Had endoscopy which shows nothing. I had a video fluroscopy/Barium swallow which shows me swolling foods and liquids fine, which I can do thankfully but they said my epiglottitis looks bunched up and that area looks very tight and compressed. That's all I got. They don't know what it is or what to do. 

    It certainly is compressed in there, and preventing the cartiliaged and ligaments etc moving in there correctly when I swallow which ends up with me getting half a swallow. Enough to get food down but not enough to give me a sensation of swallowing or normal function. The lack of sensation and the bloacking in there is such a odd feeling it does really get me down at times. I have got used to it but still hope to get this resolved.

    I am waiting for another ENT referal at a different hospital to see if they have any ideas. I am hoping I can get an MRI of the throat and hopefully it will show what is causing this blocking and faulty swallow function.

    • Posted

      Have you had any new developments or found out any new information from doctors about the swallowing numbness? I hope so, I would love to know

      Warmly, Amy

  • Posted

    I do not have the swelling but last Summeer I suddenly developed the complete numbness on one side of throat when swallowing and now when inhaling.  I went to a few ENTs and Gastros at UCLA and got no where.  Was told I had Reflux and left vocal chord paresis(but the numbness is on the right side!?)   BUT then went to another ENT and was told I didn't have either.  I also had the swallowing tests but they were inconclusive which is BS.   I can swallow I just can't feel it AND i occasionally do get food stuck there.  Does anyone else have any cervical herniations?   I have a few in C-2 through C7 and wonder if it's related.   

    I also have bad pain that comes and goes in lower right abdomen;colon,   although my ultrasound and catscans come back normal.   I can breath but breathing and swallowing  feels completely non-functioning and weak on my right side.  How is it that so many people have this with very few answers!?    Any new answers anybody?!  I hope so! :-) 

  • Posted

    This is eerily similar to what I just noticed myself.  I had what felt like a tickle in my throat for roughly 2 days.  Suddely now I do not feel any "motion" when I swallow.  It feels like the food/liquid is going down a blackhole.  I put liquid in my mouth, I swallow, and it just disappears with no feeling of it going down.  Same basic approach with food.  Even when I just swallow spit I don't feel a sense of it going down my throat.  If I eat something like yogurt I can feel it somewhat better since it's thick and probably hanging to both sides.  

    Has anyone had any bit of success in finding out what caused it?  How can it be something that doesn't return to feeling normal?  I saw the initial poster say it's been 18 months with a numb throat.  There must be a doctor out there somewhere that has seen this and determined something????

  • Posted

    The problem experienced by the original poster and others who responded is not that uncommon it would seem.  I have done some research on it and there are sufferers from the condition, all over the Internet, who share the frustration of having gone to various specialists--to no avail.  Also, I noticed that, while the symptoms felt by the sufferers were generally the same, the things they thought might have brought on the condition varied.  One man thought he had been too vigorous in trying to clear water from inside his ear after showering, another person thought the symptoms had begun after a tonsilectomy--and so on.  But doctors, evidently, are paying attention to this syndrome as some surgeons at the University of California--Davis [UCD] wrote a paper about it that can be found here:


    • Posted

      In plain language, these doctors have found that the clicking in the throat with or without dysphagia [difficulty in swallowing] is in most cases due to a problem with the thyroid cartilage,caused by trauma or merely a change brought on by aging--or something of an unclear nature--and can be surgically corrected.  They have done it.
  • Posted

    The numbness with swallowing can be caused by a hiatial hernia, which is compressing the vagus nerve and causing many of these symptoms. The larynx is affected by the vagus nerve.  I am not sure, though, if a hiatal hernia is the only thing can be causing the vagus nerve to become compressed.  Numbness in any part of the body is usually nerve-related. 
    • Posted

      Hi Janeeryre,

      I was diagnosed with a hiatial hernia (small only 1cm in size) when I had an endoscopy.  I am supposed to go for another one when they will insiert the Bravo capsule to determine if I'm still getting reflux (I have some signs such as increased mucus when I lay down at night/morning).  I will ask at that time if they can tell of any compression of the vagus nerve.  I still have the throat numbness and it's been over 4 weeks.  It's a very odd sensation.

    • Posted


      I forgot to mention that I did look at this previously..but there is hardly a single mention of a numb throat due to anything GERD related on the net!  It seems to be very rare if related.  When I swallow is truly feels as if the food/water just goes straight down.  I don't have any sense internally of feeling stuff go down my throat.  I did notice a slight irritation for about 2 days of the throat before it went numb.  

      I had an experienced ENT look at it and he just saw a white frothy foam substance at the base of my throat and it looked irritated.  I think he was pretty sure it was GERD related and possibly the reflux agitating it.  

    • Posted

      It still makes sense to me that any numbness should be nerve related.  Exactly what causes this numbness is going to be the difficulty in diagnosing. I hope a specialist can give you some idea in the near future.  You may also be suffering from what has been called "milkshake froth" in your throat.  I believe OPA_AlanM knows something about this.  I don't know if he is still following this thread.  I'll ask him.

    • Posted

      The milky froth might indicate thrush / candidiasis in the throat. There are some hints and tips about this in A Patient's Guide to Achalasia that you can download from the website of the Oesophageal Patients Association.

      I agree that the numbness might be nerve related, a bit like a bolus sensation perhaps? But I really do not know enough about this to advise.

      This is a completely wild suggestion, but I wonder whether some of the clicking might be to do with leaning in to a computer screen, in which case physiotherapy might help?

Report or request deletion

Thanks for your help!

We want the community to be a useful resource for our users but it is important to remember that the community are not moderated or reviewed by doctors and so you should not rely on opinions or advice given by other users in respect of any healthcare matters. Always speak to your doctor before acting and in cases of emergency seek appropriate medical assistance immediately. Use of the community is subject to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy and steps will be taken to remove posts identified as being in breach of those terms.