There are various ways to deal with dysphagia which work effectively to provide relief to the patient. Dysphagia can be very upsetting for its victims but here are some tips which can help deal with this disorder.
Dysphagia means difficulty in swallowing food items and these food items may be solid and liquid in nature. The term dysphagia is derived from the Greek word dys which means “bad” and phago which means “eat”. Many people do get confused between the terms dysphagia and odynophagia. As mentioned above, dysphagia means difficulty in swallowing and odynophagia means painful swallowing. It is certainly not easy for normal individuals to distinguish between these two conditions without proper knowledge.
However, for effective treatment it is very important to treat these two medical disorders separately as both of them have different causes and hence have different diagnosis. People suffer from dysphagia when there is a problem with the muscles which play a very important part in the swallowing of the food. It can be a weak tongue or facial muscles which make it hard to move the food in the mouth.
In some instances people having weak throat muscles also suffer from dysphagia. Dysphagia is primarily of two categories; oropharyngeal dysphagia (which triggers a swallowing problem before the food travels to the upper esophagus) and esophageal dysphagia (this problem starts when the food reaches the upper esophagus).
Effective ways to Deal with Dysphagia
Before understanding the different ways of dealing with dysphagia, it is very important to know about the various causes of dysphagia. Medical conditions including stroke, multiple sclerosis, brain injury, brain tumor, paralysis, gastrointestinal infections and Parkinson’s disease are some of the most common causes of dysphagia. If the given conditions are responsible for dysphagia, then treatment for the underlying conditions is advised first. If dysphagia is caused due to weak muscles or changes in muscle form, then surgery is probably the best option.
Another effective technique which is used by doctors are dilating devices, which help in increasing the size of the muscles so that food can pass without causing any discomfort. There are various medical treatments which can cure dysphagia but for a speedy recovery people can also follow some techniques at home.
- Understanding and accepting the reality is probably the best way to handle any situation. There’s no need to worry if the patient has been diagnosed with dysphagia, as there are lots of ways to handle the problem. It is very natural to feel dejected but one should never let the negative feelings take over as this can make the condition even more worse. In many cases dysphagia is a temporary problem and it is caused due to weak throat muscles.
- Don’t miss out on doctors appointments as medical treatment is the sure way of achieving success in this case. In many cases patients might be advised to consult a specialist for a second opinion or for better treatment options. A qualified physician can assist the patient in picking up the right kind of food so that swallowing doesn’t seem like a herculean task.
- Not feeling shy and being in touch with people around you is also considered very helpful in such conditions. The patient doesn’t have to bear the problem alone, he/she can have an active social life like before. Being close to family and friends is also a great way to speed up the recovery process. Most of them would like to know about the condition and there is nothing wrong in saying the truth.
- Minimizing the risk of aspiration also lowers down the dangers of pneumonia. It has been observed that most swallowing difficulties are associated with the improper closing of epiglottis while swallowing food and fluids and this often leads to fluids getting aspirated. Inhaling normally happens very quietly and hardly shows any negative symptoms but it can lead to unhealthy accumulation of fluids in lungs. This unwanted accumulation often triggers bacterial growth in lungs and it results into pneumonia. Victims of dysphagia are given small portions of food to eat so that swallowing them is not too difficult. People also face problems in swallowing liquids and so many liquids are mixed with thickening products so that swallowing them is more safe and easy.
- Having an erect posture while eating is also very important. Sitting upright with shoulders in level and back straight up is considered a healthy posture while eating. Avoid leaning forward to taste the food. Smell the food before taking a bite as this will encourage the production of saliva which facilitates passage of the food down the throat and into the esophagus. Patients should avoid eating hard foods, dried meats and foods which have to broken apart for eating.
- Another tried and test way to deal with dysphagia is by following a diet prescribed by a qualified dietitian. People suffering from dysphagia just cannot eat anything they want. Food has to be eaten very slowly and it has be consumed by taking small morsels. Till the conditions improve some patients might not be able to eat hard portions of food.
People having problems with swallowing their food are advised to control their food habits for a little while. These people can also take the guidance of an experienced dietitian to improve their daily diet.