When one of the most basic human needs, including, food, water, warmth, and rest are taken away, life simply cannot function. Try to imagine being unable to ingest food. The most instinctive way to do this is through our mouths and, therefore, any issues with swallowing can be deeply de-humanizing and difficult to live with.
What is Dysphagia?
Dysphagia is the medical term for having difficulty swallowing. When a person experiences this condition, they will be unable to move food and liquids down into their stomach at a normal pace or, in more serious cases, at all.
As you might imagine, this can lead to a host of issues. Some of these are related to malnutrition and include dehydration and weight loss, others are more physical, such as a greater risk of choking. In very severe cases, a patient can develop aspiration pneumonia, caused by food or liquid entering the airway, leading to infection.
The condition is not considered critical if difficulty swallowing happens only occasionally, after eating too fast or failing to chew food correctly. Once the condition has become persistent, urgent medical attention is needed to prevent any of the risks mentioned above.
What are the Symptoms?
Dysphagia is better detected at an early stage so that it can be treated and have less impact on a person’s long-term health. Early signs that someone might be having difficulty swallowing are having to cut food into smaller pieces or avoiding specific foods, coughing, gagging, or regurgitating food back up after attempting to swallow, drooling, and having pain once swallowing.
Later signs to look out for might be linked to malnutrition such as unexpected weight loss after being unable to properly get food into the stomach, and being unable to swallow at all. Any of these symptoms left untreated can be life-threatening and recurring symptoms must be reported to a doctor and treated immediately.
How Can Dysphagia Be Treated?
Treatment for this condition can be costly and may result in surgery, however, it can also begin with a smaller investment in a diet plan to reduce the effects of dysphagia. Controlling your diet can greatly reduce the more severe impacts of this disease, specifically relating to aspiration, such as pneumonia. The foods allowed on such diets will have smooth ‘pudding’ like textures as these are considered easier to swallow without getting stuck or entering the lungs.
This ‘pudding’ like texture can be achieved by the addition of a thickener, such as Simply Thick, which Is added to liquids to reduce the risk of them entering the lungs and causing aspirational problems.
Dysphagia is a life-altering disease that affects up to 15 million adults in the United States and is often left untreated or never accurately diagnosed. Suffering in silence is not the solution and once signs have been spotted, a visit to the doctor should be scheduled immediately. Nevertheless, switching to an alternative diet can be the best life-saving remedy for a dysphagia sufferer and can greatly reduce the risks of severe diseases developing.