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Phagophobia is a psychogenic dysphagia, a fear of swallowing.[1] It is expressed in various swallowing complaints without any apparent physical reason detectable by physical inspection and laboratory analyses. An obsolete term for this phobia is choking phobia,[2] but it was suggested that the latter term is confusing and it is necessary to distinguish the fear of swallowing (i.e., of the propulsion of bolus) from fear of choking.[1]

Phagophobia is classified as a specific phobia and according to DSM-IV classification it belongs to the category of "other phobias". Phagophobia may lead to (and be confused with) fear of eating, and the subsequent malnutrition and weight loss. In milder cases a phagophobe eats only soft and liquid foods.[3]

Other expressions of this disease consist of an almost obsessive need for a glass of water while eating. Certain patients suffering from phagophobia may fly into mild seizures and/or irrational rages if deprived of their water while eating. During these rages, some phagophobia patients have a tendency to rapidly walk around the room holding an empty glass in one hand while plugging their ear with their other hand. These and other symptoms have been observed.

See also


  1. ^ a b Shapiro J, Franko DL, Gagne A. Phagophobia: a form of psychogenic dysphagia. A new entity. Ann Otol Rhinol Laryngol 1997; 106: 286-290.
  2. ^ McNally RJ. Choking phobia: a review of the literature. Compr Psychiatry 1994; 35: 83-89.
  3. ^ Müzeyyen Çiyiltepe, Tümer Türkbay, Phagophobia: a case report, The Turkish Journal of Pediatrics, 2006, Volume 48, Number 1, Page(s) 080-084


  • Klinger RL, Strang JP. Psychiatric aspects of swallowing disorders. Psychosomatics 1987; 28: 572-576.

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