Dysphagia is the medical term for having difficulty swallowing. Stress can often be brought about by dysphagia, as this is often uncomfortable and has side effects. Patients describe the feeling that, in their throat, food is stuck. Under normal circumstances, we don’t even think twice about swallowing, but many people may have had problems swallowing at one time or another. Usually this is nothing to worry about. However, if a person experiences continual swallowing difficulties, a more serious condition may be involved. Problems swallowing can be caused by different reasons, of which are blockages and certain disorders. Swallowing is a very complex act due to the fact that so many nerves and muscles are involved. In addition, when there is a problem, we become more aware of the process involved in swallowing, including chewing the food and trying to get it through the oesophagus and into the stomach. This simple action is anything but, for those whom have a difficulty swallowing.
Swallowing issues can sometimes be ameliorated by eating slowly and chewing food thoroughly. However, if a person seems to be choking and is having problems breathing or swallowing, it could be that they have a blockage in their primary airway. Anyone who experiences painful swallowing should consult with a physician so that a proper physical examination can be performed. The physician may ask the patient if s/he has problems swallowing food, pills or liquids.
Patients must necessarily take the advice of doctors or pharmacists in case of tablet-crushing, since it has not only clinical but legal implications as well. Possibly medications can be prescribed in an alternative form for people who have problems swallowing pills. Breaking larger tablets into smaller pieces can make it easier to swallow the pills, as these smaller pieces may slide down the throat more easily. It may even be possible to crush the pills and dissolve them in water. Actually, whether or not one has difficulty swallowing, tablets should always be taken with water.
The factors behind the swallowing problem take on a significant role in deciding the method of treatment for dysphagia. A feeding tube is a temporary solution, although in some cases it could be a long-term solution. This tube, which is placed into the stomach through the nose or abdomen, is taken out once feeding returns to normal.
Several tests can be performed by the doctor or hospital to discover the causes of dysphagia. Some of the obvious investigations carried out are those for signs of obstruction or for tumours in the pharynx. Radiation therapy or surgery can remove these tumours, which occur only in serious cases. The physician may also ask if coughing or choking occur after eating, whether or not the voice has been impacted, if any other symptoms are present, and if the patient is taking any medication. The responses to these questions will assist the physician in finding out the reason for the swallowing problem.
In addition to problems involving choking or chewing, the other major problems that may occur when swallowing include excessive saliva or dribbling. This can sometimes be a symptom of multiple sclerosis. Of those suffering from multiple sclerosis, 30% to 40% experience difficulties swallowing. A team of medical staff will treat this difficulty in swallowing in these situations. A radiologist, speech therapist and a dietician may be on the team, with the dietician being the person who can provide the patient with a list of foods that will be easier to swallow.
A few strategies can ease the discomfort of swallowing. Being relaxed at meal time and having good posture help the condition. Particular attention must be given to avoid hurried meals, as well as talking during meals. Our health is often overlooked as we live busy lives and making time for ourselves is difficult. However, measures must be taken to make meals as stress-free as possible, and this is of particular significance in case of patients with swallowing issues.
Soften food by drinking lots of water between mouthfuls and remain in an upright position for at least 30 minutes after you eat to make it easier for food to pass through the system to the stomach. Also, keep in mind that when swallowing problems occur in conjunction with another medical condition for which oral medication is needed, a number of medications are available in liquid form, relieving the pain and discomfort associated with swallowing.
For those who find swallowing pills hard, these treatments reduce the stress with the thought of taking medication. A patient can attain a better quality of life as medicine in the form of a liquid can eradicate pain.