Swallowing is a natural process that many people take for granted until something goes wrong. For most people, this instinctive act occurs without much thought when you eat and drink. However, for some, swallowing can be a difficult and, in some cases, dangerous task that can cause discomfort and pain. Dysphagia, the medical term for swallowing difficulties, can occur for a variety of reasons. Whatever the reason, it can have a significant impact on an individual’s quality of life. Here is a short guide about everything you need to know about dysphagia.
What Is Dysphagia?
Dysphagia is a medical term for difficulty with swallowing. This medical condition occurs in people of all ages and can arise from various causes. Dysphagia can be a passing condition that can last a long time. Common reasons for dysphagia include structural abnormalities in the esophagus or throat, neurological disorders, like stroke, muscular or nerve-related health conditions, and certain medications. People with dysphagia may find that the condition leads to complications like dehydration, weight loss, and malnutrition. It can even lead to aspiration pneumonia if the condition is not managed properly.
Symptoms of Dysphagia
Depending on the root cause and severity of dysphagia, the symptoms can vary a lot. A few common symptoms are:
- Discomfort or pain when swallowing.
- Choking or coughing during or after consuming food or drink.
- The feeling of food or drink getting stuck in the chest or throat.
- Hoarseness or changes in voice.
- Unexpected weight loss.
- Recurrent chest infections.
How to Manage Dysphagia
Coping with dysphagia can be challenging, especially if you have only recently started experiencing the symptoms. It is important to speak to your health provider for professional advice. They can give you a proper diagnosis and develop a treatment plan for you. Your treatment plan will include strategies that will help you manage dysphagia.
Modify Your Diet
If you find that your condition affects the types of food you can consume, modifying your diet can help ensure you get enough nutrition. Dietary modifications include blending and pureeing whole foods to make them easier to eat and using thickening products to make certain textures more palatable. SimplyThick powder for dysphagia alters the consistency of liquids to make them easier and safer to swallow. Modifying your diet can help ensure you get enough food in your system without risking aspiration.
Make Lifestyle Changes
Small lifestyle changes can make a huge impact when it comes to consuming food and drinks. These changes can include doing your research on eateries and only visiting establishments that serve dysphagia-friendly food items, eating frequent but smaller meals, and being mindful about chewing food thoroughly before swallowing.
Seeking professional help from speech therapists can go a long way in helping you manage and even get rid of dysphagia. Speech therapists can teach you different types of exercises to help strengthen the muscles you use to swallow food and drinks. They can also help you enhance your coordination skills to improve your ability to swallow and teach you techniques to make the process of swallowing easier.