Difficulty swallowing food or liquid is medically known as dysphagia and can lead to a range of further complications and medical problems. People who suffer with this condition may be at a higher risk of nutritional deficiencies or dehydration due to not being able to get the right amount of nutrients in their diet. Dysphagia can be caused by a range of more serious health conditions and is often more common in seniors as a result of neurological conditions such as a stroke or dementia. It may also develop as a result of medical treatments such as radiation therapy for certain types of cancer. If you or somebody you are caring for has this condition, then these are some of the main ways to reduce problems swallowing.
Along with having trouble swallowing food, dysphagia and other conditions that cause problems swallowing can make it hard to swallow liquids, leading to aspiration, or liquid being taken into the airway or lungs. People who have dysphagia may struggle drinking liquids like tea, coffee, juice and water. To make it easier, products such as Simply Thick can be added to the liquid to thicken the consistency for swallowing.
People with dysphagia may require more time than normal to finish a meal. Taking smaller bites and chewing food more slowly can make swallowing and digestion safer. Whether you are preparing this food for yourself as somebody who has dysphagia or preparing it for somebody else with this condition, it’s a wise idea to make food softer and easier to eat, such as by mashing or cutting into smaller, bite-size pieces.
There are various exercises and techniques that somebody with dysphagia can use to improve their posture and make it easier and safer to swallow food and liquid. A comfortable, upright position when eating or drinking can make it easier to swallow and reduce the risk of choking. Along with this, sitting or standing upright for around thirty minutes after eating can utilize gravity to help with swallowing and digestion.
In some cases, people with severe dysphagia may be required to stick to a diet where they only eat food that has been blended or pureed. This involves removing all lumps and pieces from the food to give it a smooth texture and reduce the risk of choking when eating. You can use appliances such as a food processor or an electric blender to make almost any food easier to eat with dysphagia.
Tongue Strengthening Exercises
There have been several studies that suggest practicing tongue-strengthening exercises for dysphagia can be useful in improving chewing and swallowing abilities for people with this condition. Patients can be referred to a speech-language therapist to help with this. Along with strengthening exercises, saliva substitute gels can also be used for increasing mouth lubrication, reducing the effort required to swallow.
Dysphagia is a condition that makes it difficult to swallow food and liquid. With the right strategies, it can be managed and eating made safer.