Does Sertraline affect swallowing? (3+ contributing factors)

In this article, we will discuss whether Sertraline can affect swallowing. We will also enlist some factors that can make you more susceptible to swallowing difficulties while taking Sertraline and will discuss some management strategies. 

Does Sertraline affect swallowing?

Sertraline does not affect swallowing when taken properly, but people are different and can experience different side effects. Sertraline typically does not cause throat-related side effects, but individuals might occasionally report a burning sensation or irritation in their throat (1,2). 

However, improper drug administration could potentially cause throat issues due to Sertraline’s composition, which may result in swelling and difficulty swallowing. If you experience throat pain, swelling, or difficulty swallowing, it’s essential to reach out to your healthcare provider for guidance.

What does research suggest?

Research does not show a direct link between Sertraline and swallowing difficulty. However, improper administration of Sertraline, such as taking it without water or the pill getting stuck in the throat, may lead to this side effect. 

The Sertraline monograph indicates that it’s available as or formulated into Sertraline hydrochloride (HCl), which can turn into acid when it comes in contact with moisture (3). This salt formulation is essential to enhance the medication’s bioavailability by increasing absorption rates. 

However, this acid salt of Sertraline can lead to throat irritation if the pill moves slowly on its way to the stomach. 

Additionally, Sertraline can cause side effects like acid reflux, which, if it becomes severe, may lead to oesophagus and throat irritation (4). Pain or swelling in the throat may occur in rare cases.

What factors can contribute to swallowing difficulty while taking Sertraline?

Some factors can contribute to swallowing difficulties while taking Sertraline include:

  • Taking pills, including Sertraline, without enough water can make them get stuck in the throat, causing discomfort.
  • Taking Sertraline and then lying down immediately may allow the pill to move more slowly towards the stomach, increasing the risk of throat irritation.
  • Some medications, when taken alongside Sertraline, may lead to difficulty swallowing. It’s important to discuss all your medications with your healthcare provider.
  • Conditions like unmanaged GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) can contribute to swallowing difficulties. GERD causes stomach acid to flow back into the oesophagus, potentially irritating the throat (5).
  • Anxiety or fear of swallowing pills can also lead to difficulties.

What to do if you’re experiencing swallowing difficulty while taking Sertraline?

Talk to your doctor if you’re experiencing difficulty swallowing while taking Sertraline. Your doctor will determine the exact cause and check for any swelling in your throat that may narrow the passage and cause swallowing problems. 

If necessary, your doctor may prescribe medication to manage throat inflammation or pain. Managing stomach acid is also crucial, especially for people with unmanaged GERD. Your doctor may add an acid reducer to your regimen to help. 

If Sertraline is directly causing discomfort in your throat, your doctor may consider dose reduction or find an alternative way to manage your mental health condition safely and effectively. Make sure you do not make any changes to your prescription without consulting your doctor first.


In this article, we have discussed swallowing difficulty associated with Sertraline use. We have also discussed some factors that can contribute to this side effect and what one should do to mitigate it. 


  1. Singh HK, Saadabadi A. Sertraline. 2023 Feb 13. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan–. PMID: 31613469. Available from: 
  1. National Library of Medicine. Sertraline: MedlinePlus Drug Information [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): U.S. National Library of Medicine. Available from: 
  1. PubChem [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): National Library of Medicine (US), National Center for Biotechnology Information; 2004-. PubChem Compound Summary for CID 63009, Sertraline Hydrochloride; [cited 2023 Sept. 27]. Available from: 
  1. Brahm NC, Kelly-Rehm MC. Antidepressant-mediated gastroesophageal reflux disease. Consult Pharm. 2011 Apr;26(4):274-8. doi: 10.4140/TCP.n.2011.274. PMID: 21486738. 
  1. Antunes C, Aleem A, Curtis SA. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease. 2023 Jul 3. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan–. PMID: 28722967. 

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