DYSPHAGIA

Dysphagia, or impaired swallowing, can be an actual blockage of the throat, or a problem with the act of swallowing. While typically more common in the elderly, dysphagia has multiple causes and can affect people of all ages. Dysphagia can cause additional health problems and should therefore be diagnosed and treated appropriately.

Dysphagia is defined as difficulty swallowing.   Persons with dysphagia might experience trouble with: swallowing, drinking, chewing, eating, sucking, controlling saliva, taking medication, or protecting the airway. Dysphagia can occur at any time during the lifespan and may be short or long term. The most common causes of dysphagia are related to underlying medical or physical conditions1

While dysphagia makes eating and drinking uncomfortable, it can also cause other serious health problems. Because many people with this condition do not seek or receive a proper diagnosis or medical treatment, eating and drinking less can lead to malnutrition and dehydration, weight loss, respiratory infections, and can even have a negative impact on social situations. Since dysphagia can lead to insufficient nutrition, adapting eating and drinking behaviour is an important step toward managing this condition.

1. http://iddsi.org/the-challenge/  Accessed November 2015.

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A swallowing disorder called dysphagia often occurs as a result of stroke. Dysphagia may occur in up to 65 percent of stroke patients.


Source: http://www.strokeassociation.org/STROKEORG/LifeAfterStroke/RegainingIndependence/CommunicationChallenges/Difficulty-Swallowing-After-Stroke-Dysphagia_UCM_310084_Article.jsp

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Since dysphagia makes swallowing difficult, patients may need to adapt their diet to compensate. After a complete clinical evaluation, appropriate modifications to the diet can be recommended.

<h2>Speech-language Pathologists, Registered Dietitians and Occupational Therapists can help.</h2>

SPEECH-LANGUAGE PATHOLOGISTS, REGISTERED DIETITIANS AND OCCUPATIONAL THERAPISTS CAN HELP.

An interdisciplinary team of speech-language pathologists, registered dietitians and occupational therapists can help assess, diagnose and treat swallowing disorders in children and adults. A consultation with a swallowing team, or members of the swallowing team, may provide useful information about the types of foods and exercises that can help with dysphagia.

<h2>Sit up straight and let gravity help </h2>

SIT UP STRAIGHT AND LET GRAVITY HELP

While the muscles of the esophagus are important in delivering food to the stomach, gravity can also help keep food moving. Eating while sitting upright and avoiding lying down immediately after meals may help improve swallowing ability in dysphagia.1


Source: http://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/tc/difficulty-swallowing-dysphagia-overview. Accessed December 2014.