Dysphagia is a fairly common condition with many affected because it usually coincides with other common health problems: gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GORD), esophageal or mouth cancer, dementia, head injuries, and strokes. People with this condition battle to swallow their food or even liquids while some people are totally unable to swallow. Symptoms that usually accompany dysphagia are constant drooling, feeling that you have food stuck in your chest or throat, regurgitating food or liquid, which may come up through the nose, and choking or coughing when trying to drink or eat. People with dysphagia gradually acquire other symptoms such as frequent chest infections and losing too much weight.
Causes of Dysphagia
Along with the conditions listed above that are often concurrent with dysphagia, children may get the conditions due to a learning disability, delayed development, or congenital conditions. These include cerebral palsy and cleft palate and lip.
There are two types of problems that cause dysphagia. Dysphagia can be caused by problems with the throat or mouth, and secondly, the esophagus. The former is known as high dysphagia, while the latter is called low dysphagia.
Treatment for Dysphagia
Dysphagia is treated according to the type of condition and what has caused it as determined by tests and examination. There is no definitive cure, but the condition can be managed and even improved. Language and speech therapy can teach the patient new ways to swallow. Food and drinks can be thickened to pudding consistency beverages with SimplyThick EasyMix so that they can be safely swallowed.
Some patients need surgery because the esophagus has narrowed. This is accomplished by the insertion of a stent or stretching the esophagus. Other patients have to be fed by a tube that reaches the stomach through the nose.
Complications with Dysphagia
There are various complications that occur in conjunction with dysphasia. The one that is often the most troublesome is when the person chokes or coughs on food that goes into the airway instead of the stomach. This can make patients reluctant to drink and eat and this leads to poor nutrition or dehydration. Another problem that this causes is a chest infection, for example aspiration pneumonia, which needs urgent medical treatment.
Additionally, dysphagia causes embarrassment where sufferers are reluctant to eat in front of others and start to withdraw from social events, thus affecting the quality of life they have.
Who is at Risk for Developing Dysphagia?
There are two key risk factors that make people more likely to get dysphagia. The first factor is aging. Aging causes the body’s tissues to naturally wear down. When this happens to the esophagus, dysphagia may develop. Disease is the second condition. Nervous system and neurological disorders, Parkinson’s disease, strokes, and other conditions also place people at higher risk of having dysphagia.
Dysphagia should be diagnosed by medical professionals and will be treated with a plethora of solutions. Although it may not be cured, treatment can make all the difference to the patient’s wellbeing.