If you or a loved one suffers from dysphagia disorder, you will already be all too aware of the stress and trauma that can result from a repeated difficulty in swallowing. Whether you are completely unable to swallow on your own naturally, be those certain foods, liquids, or your own saliva, a diagnosis of dysphagia can be a life-changing and extremely traumatic event.
Fortunately, across the United States, sufferers of dysphagia in the modern day have several treatment options available to them. Dysphagia disorder does not just affect a person physically, but it can also have a profound impact on their mental health and wellbeing too.
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Types and Symptoms
If you are worried you may have developed dysphagia, it is important to be aware that when someone has difficulty swallowing, it is not automatically indicative of a medical condition, and the issue may well go away by itself.
Acid reflux, heartburn, and more unusual causes such as a bite from a venomous snake or an infection of herpes can all severely affect a person’s ability to swallow. Swallowing occurs in four basic phases, four phases which a person not suffering from any symptoms goes through automatically and quite naturally. Dysphagia weakens the throat and mouth muscles which essentially makes it difficult for sufferers to swallow food, drink, and saliva without gagging, choking, or coughing.
The main symptoms of dysphagia include an inability to control and maintain the level of saliva in the mouth, regurgitation (sometimes through the nose as well as the mouth), a strong sensation of food being stuck in the throat, or chest, and coughing or gagging when swallowing. Other symptoms may include incessant drooling, choking, recurrent heartburn, unexplained and somewhat rapid weight loss, and extreme difficulty in gulping.
Ways to Manage the Condition
Several different therapies assist the daily routine of a person suffering from dysphagia quite dramatically. Exercise therapy which focuses on swallowing, awareness, and conscious control of muscle movement in the throat, has proven to be very beneficial. Alternatively, swallowing therapy, which is usually provided by professional speech therapists, can help a person suffering from dysphagia disorder to discover new ways of swallowing, including different positions to hold their mouth and tongue when eating. Nutritional therapy can also be incredibly useful; controlling and being far more aware of what a person is consuming can significantly assist in keeping bouts of dysphagia flare-ups at bay.
Thickening products such as Simply Thick is approved by the United States medical board and are used to thicken both liquids and foods to various consistencies to suit the individual’s specific needs. Naturally, the passage of foods and liquids when initially consumed tends to be fast-paced and often turbulent, whereas thickening products help to slow down this transit, thus allowing the person more time to safely co-ordinate the swallowing process.
Dysphagia is a stressful and traumatic condition to deal with, so take advantage of these tools to help you adapt to the diagnosis.