With all the many medical issues around the world, swallowing difficulties does not sound like it should be particularly bothersome or alarming. However, the possibility for further complications posed by dysphagia makes it well worth looking into, so here is a brief guide to dysphagia.
Dysphagia is the medical term for swallowing difficulties. The severity of dysphagia can vary, ranging from slight difficulties swallowing certain foods or liquids to a complete inability to swallow at all. Unfortunately, this condition often causes other issues such as repeated chest infections or even weight loss.
There are a few fairly recognizable symptoms of dysphagia, which will be discussed below, as well as a handful that are less notable. Difficulty chewing properly, for example, is not necessarily even notable if the person suffering from this issue has become accustomed to it.
Difficulty Swallowing. It is hardly surprising that dysphagia is characterized by swallowing difficulties. Although, it is worth noting that the sensation of having food stuck in your chest is often a symptom that follows this one.
Coughing/Choking When Eating. Often people do not think too much about when or why they cough, especially if it is only a slight cough. However, if you find that you cough almost every time you eat, or if you find yourself bringing food back up, then you should strongly consider why that might be.
Wet Sounding Voice When Eating. Lastly, one of the most recognizable aspects of dysphagia: a wet-sounding voice when eating. If you notice this in combination with other side effects of dysphagia, then you should talk to your doctor about the possibility of having dysphagia.
Fortunately, there are several options for treating dysphagia ranging from completely noninvasive to full surgery depending on the severity of your dysphagia and how well you respond to other treatments. Ultimately, as with any other condition, the treatment of dysphagia is a process rather than a sprint to the finish line.
Speech Therapy. One of the best options for dysphagia, at least to start with, is speech therapy. Through therapy, coaching, exercises, and practice, speech therapists are able to help their patients to learn how to swallow properly again.
Thickening Food and Water. Another effective technique comes from the application of products such as SimplyThick food thickener, which can help to thicken the consistency of water and liquid foods to make it more possible for you to swallow them without causing issues with aspiration (the act of breathing food or water into your lungs).
Surgery. In certain cases, when other treatments prove ineffective and the dysphagia is causing significant issues, your doctor may suggest surgery as a way to widen your esophagus and reduce your symptoms.
Finally, while these treatments will often help to reduce the effects of dysphagia, they will not get rid of it entirely. This means that learning to live with your dysphagia is an important part of your treatment as well.