Dysphagia causes swallowing difficulties i.e. it takes more effort and time to pass food and liquid through the esophagus. Sometimes dysphagia can be caused due to pain that might make swallowing impossible. Persistent swallowing difficulty can be due to a serious condition requiring medical attention. People of any age can be affected by dysphagia. The underlying causes may vary. Treatment depends upon the cause of dysphagia.
Older adults are at a greater risk of dysphagia due to wear and tear to the esophagus with the course of time. Patients with neurological or nervous system disorders like MS are more likely to have dysphagia. Weight loss, malnutrition and dehydration are major things that can result from dysphagia. It becomes difficult for the body to absorb nutrients from food due to dysphagia. Person with dysphagia may experience infection of the upper airway or pneumonia as the food might enter the airway when the patient tries to swallow. Regular swallowing difficulties along with weight loss, regurgitation or vomiting is a matter of concern and must be reported to your doctor immediately. If you feel that the obstruction interferes with breathing or you feel food stuck in your throat or chest call immediately for help.
There are two ways to treat or manage dysphagia, aids that help in easier swallowing and a change in diet that also enables easy swallowing.
People with dysphagia need a special dysphagia diet which is easy to swallow. This diet can have different textures that are safe for patients to swallow. Textures should be such that it becomes easier for the food to move in the esophagus and it does not enter the windpipe or trachea. Every patient has their special needs and so food should be prepared accordingly. Food and beverage thickeners can be used to bring food to the required consistency so that it can be easily swallowed.
There are several aids for dysphagia that help in either enabling easier swallowing or allow for an alternate swallowing technique.
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Dysphagia refers to a swallowing disorders characterized by difficulty in chewing, manipulating, and moving food, liquid, medications, or secretions through the mouth, throat, and esophagus into the stomach. Dysphagia can be a result of many underlying medical conditions.
Dysphagia, if left untreated can lead to aspiration i.e. the entry of foreign material (such as food, liquid, or secretions) into the airway. Aspiration increases the risk of developing pneumonia. Dysphagia may also cause malnutrition, dehydration, decreased quality of life, weight loss, and even death.
A pureed diet may be recommended if you have dysphagia. Pureed food should be smooth, homogeneous and cohesive, or pudding-like. People with Dysphagia may benefit from eating several small meals a day instead of three large meals.