Dysphagia refers to swallowing difficulties that may occur after a stroke, accident, or surgery. It often occurs in older adults, and it may be associated with pain while swallowing and regurgitation. If not treated properly, it can become a fatal condition. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to deal with dysphagia.
What is the most common cause of Dysphagia?
The most common cause of dysphagia is gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). This can cause the oesophagus to become inflamed and ulcerated. Other causes include neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, cerebral palsy, tumours that press on the oesophagus or throat, and stroke.
How to deal with dysphagia
There are many ways to manage or treat dysphagia. Here are a few options:
Talk with your doctor about medication
Over-the-counter medications may relieve discomfort caused by swallowing difficulties, though you should always check with your doctor before taking any new medications. If you have an underlying condition that is causing dysphagia, your doctor may be able to prescribe a treatment for that condition which will, in turn, help you manage your swallowing difficulties.
One of the first steps that a doctor will recommend for treating this condition is changing your diet. People with dysphagia are often put on specially-formulated diets to make swallowing easier. Soft foods such as scrambled eggs, peanut butter, noodles, cooked vegetables, and soups are all recommended for people suffering from dysphagia. If you have severe dysphagia, it is best to avoid raw vegetables and meat.
In some cases, your doctor might recommend that you see a speech therapist specialising in treating dysphagia. A speech therapist will help you develop healthy habits for eating and drinking that will make swallowing much easier on your body. This is an excellent option for people who have had strokes or other injuries that may have damaged their ability to swallow correctly.
In more severe cases of dysphagia, surgery may be an option. Several surgeries can help restore muscle function in your throat or oesophagus to improve your swallowing ability depending on the cause of your dysphagia. Ask your doctor if surgery is an option for you.
Other feeding methods may be necessary for individuals who cannot take in enough nutrients through eating or drinking alone. One option is tube feeding, which involves placing a tube down the nose into the stomach or small intestine.