Dysphagia is a medical term for swallowing difficulty. It is commonly seen in older people and children suffering from cerebral palsy, dementia, spine injury, and stroke. It can lead to loss of nutrition and hydration.
Often cases of dysphagia can lead to choking and aspiration pneumonia which is an infection resulting from the food material entering the lungs.
People suffering from the condition can only have certain foods or liquids. While some people can’t even swallow. Click here to read more about it.
Signs Of Dysphagia
People suffering from dysphagia often feel a sensation that food is stuck in their throats. They can sometimes cough excessively. The probable sign of the swallowing issue is as follows.
- Coughing or choking while eating or drinking.
- Excessive difficulty in swallowing that they bring food back up.
- A sensation that food is stuck in your throat or chest.
- Drooling or salivating.
- Being unable to chew properly.
- The throat feels wet when eating or swallowing.
Causes Of Dysphagia
Dysphagia is caused by a myriad of health conditions. Older people suffering from such health conditions can show it at a later stage of their life.
- People suffering from injuries such as stroke, head injury, multiple sclerosis, or dementia can develop dysphagia in the later stages of life.
- Mouth cancer or oesophageal cancer can cause dysphagia.
- Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD), which is resulted from stomach acid leak, can be a causal reason for developing the condition.
Children can develop dysphagia as a result of cerebral palsy or other learning disabilities.
Complications Associated With Dysphagia
Excessive coughing and choking due to the inability to swallow food or liquid. In this way, food can enter the airway passage and block it. This is called aspiration pneumonia which should be treated immediately.
Warning Signs Associated With Aspiration Pneumonia
- A wet and gurgly voice during eating or drinking food material
- Coughing at the same time while eating or drinking
- Difficulty breathing
Dysphagia in children can occur due to cerebral palsy and other disabilities.
Exercises To Treat Dysphagia
Dysphagia can be an irritating and troublesome problem for people. If you come across any of your family members or friends suffering from such symptoms, you can teach them these exercises.
Here are the top five exercises that will provide a sense of relief to people suffering from the problem.
In order to perform the exercise first, you have to lie on your back on a flat surface. Make sure that your shoulders are spread against the surface. It is important to note that don’t use any pillow or headrest.
You can keep your shoulder on the surface and slowly lift your chin at the same time looking at your feet. Then again, lower your head down to the surface.
Repeat the same 30 times or as directed by your medical practitioner. And then take a rest of 2 minutes.
You can stick your tongue out of your mouth and bite down gently on your tongue in order to keep it in place.
You can then swallow without food, holding your tongue in between your teeth. After performing the full task, release the tongue.
You can press your neck where Adam’s apple is located with the help of your index, middle, and ring finger. You can swallow without food, noticing the movement of Adam’s apple.
After swallowing for the first time, you’ll have to swallow again in order to squeeze the throat muscles. So that the adam’s apple won’t move ups and down this time.
Hyoid Lift Maneuver
First, you need to gather certain things before starting this exercise. A drinking straw, pieces of paper towel, and a cup. You can start working with 3 to 5 pieces of paper and work upto 10, increasing in strength.
Now place one part of the straw in your mouth and the other end on a piece of paper. Now suck on it. The other end of the straw will be picking up papers. You need to keep the suction strong enough in order to carry each piece of paper to an empty cup.
Repeat the process until all the pieces of paper are in the cup.
You can push the lower jaw far forward to place the lower teeth in front of your upper teeth. Now you need to hold onto that position as long as it is advised by your doctor.
You can repeat the process as many times as you need. For older people, guidance from their general physician is required.
You Need To Be Safe
Older people suffering from dysphagia must perform the exercises under the supervision of a medical professional. There can be a risk of choking during the activities. Thus, you should always guide your dearest one under strict supervision.