What is Dysphagia?
Simply stated, dysphagia is difficulty with chewing and swallowing. This means it make take extra time or effort to move food from your mouth to your stomach. The food could even go into your lungs eventually causing bacterial pneumonia. Symptoms of dysphagia can include:
-coughing when eating/drinking
-runny nose when eating/drinking
-clearing the throat when eating/drinking
-struggling to swallow whole foods
-increased difficulty with chewing
-choking on food/liquids
Occasional difficulty with swallowing is normal especially if you eat too fast and fail to chew your food enough prior to swallowing. However, if you experience the symptoms stated above with most to every meal, there may be a medical condition occurring that requires treatment.
What Causes Dysphagia?
Difficulty swallowing can be caused by multiple conditions. Some of the most common seen in the adult population include gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), cancer treatments, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, muscular dystrophy, stroke, traumatic brain injury, and age-related muscle weakness.
Treatment for Dysphagia
If you suspect you have dysphagia or you have been diagnosed with dysphagia, a Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) can help you receive the tailored treatment you will need. SLP’s are swallowing specialists. Depending on the type of swallowing difficulty you have, your SLP may prescribe exercises to strengthen the muscles inside your throat. You may also learn about ways to position your head when you swallow.
At Trio Rehabilitation & Wellness Solutions in Boerne, TX our speech therapist is VitalStim® certified. This type of dysphagia treatment is a special form of neuromuscular electrical stimulation that helps the muscles in the neck contract to improve swallowing. If a person is not a candidate for VitalStim® therapy, there is another option. Deep pharyngeal neuromuscular stimulation (DPNS) is a program used to stimulate sites on the tongue, soft palate, and back of the throat to promote improved swallowing.
Certain conditions are progressive and require a change in diet texture all together as the ability to swallow thin liquids is lost. When that occurs, your SLP may recommend thickened liquids and stickier foods to improve your ability to swallow.
Remember, the best intervention is early intervention with any chewing or swallowing difficulties.
Call Trio Rehab. Today!