Dysphagia is a condition that can cause problems with swallowing food and/or liquids. Although there are many underlying causes, the condition is common in adults who have suffered a stroke or have underlying neurological conditions. There are several approaches used to help people with dysphagia adapt to or improve their condition.
Depending on the severity of dysphagia, temporary or permanent dietary modifications may be used to avoid a feeding tube and prevent aspiration of food into the lungs. For example, some people with dysphagia may experience food becoming caught in their esophagus due to problems with food motility. In this instance, liquids and soft solid foods may be appropriate because they are less likely to become stuck than foods that require more chewing and contain less moisture. Some drier solid foods may be acceptable as long as they are consumed in small bites, such as fish and animal proteins. Liquids may be a problem for some people with dysphagia, leading to aspiration. They may need to "bulk" liquids with thickening agents to minimize the risk of liquids entering the lungs.
No matter the extent of dysphagia, swallowing therapy is invaluable to help people with dysphagia potentially improve their ability to swallow foods and liquids. The therapeutic techniques depend on the exact type of dysphagia, but typically include physical maneuvers to aid in safely swallowing foods. A common approach is using positional techniques to aid the passage of food. Patients might also be instructed to tilt their chin upward and sit up as straight as possible if food frequently becomes stuck in the upper part of the esophagus. A combination of dietary changes and positional techniques might help food pass with ease.
In some cases of dysphagia, medical intervention may be a temporary or permanent method to provide nourishment. Medical interventions, such as feeding tubes and intravenous fluids, may be given while a person with dysphagia is engaged in other rehabilitative techniques. Another medical treatment option may include electrical stimulation. During electrical stimulation, electrodes are placed on the skin and small electrical impulses are directed toward the esophagus to improve the function of esophageal muscles. When effective, electrical stimulation may help retrain the muscles to achieve normal or near normal swallowing behavior.
Dysphagia can be a difficult condition to cope with since it impedes on basic functioning. Fortunately, there are many techniques available that can improve dysphagia even if medical interventions for nourishment are essential in the early phases of the condition.
My name is Shawna Banks and this is a blog that focuses on health issues that affect women. I became interested in women's health when my sister began having medical problems. After her condition worsened, she went to see a doctor. After her diagnosis and successful treatment, I helped her research the different kinds of health conditions that are common in women. By becoming knowledgeable about these types of problems, we can keep ourselves healthier. I hope that when you read this blog, it will help you to identify symptoms that shouldn't be ignored. If necessary, you can schedule an appointment with your physician as soon as possible.