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Food Impaction


Food impaction occurs when food (often meat or fish bones) becomes stuck in your esophagus. Food impaction can occur if your esophagus does not function normally. Food impaction may also happen if you do not have teeth or do not chew your food completely.


Return to the emergency department if:

  • You are unable to swallow your saliva.
  • Your breathing is noisy.
  • You have trouble breathing.
  • You have repeated vomiting or blood in your vomit.
  • You have pain in your chest or abdomen.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • You feel you have something stuck in your throat.
  • You choke or vomit after eating.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

You may need tests to check your ability to swallow. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Prevent food impaction:

  • Sit up while you eat. Raise the head of your bed if you need to eat in bed.
  • Make sure your dentures fit well. Poorly fitting dentures make it difficult to chew.
  • Chew your food completely. Proper chewing will help with swallowing.
  • Drink water with meals. Water will help move food down to your stomach.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.