For many of us, the term “dysphagia” is one we haven’t heard before. It actually refers to an inability to swallow. Sometimes it’s easily remedied and other times, unless diagnosed and treated efficiently, it can be fatal. More older adults are affected by dysphagia but anyone of any age can be diagnosed with it.
At this point, it should be noted that an occasional choking or inability to swallow is not really a cause for concern. However, if you find that you or a loved one frequently has trouble passing food from the mouth to the stomach without choking or regurgitating, it would be advisable to seek medical advice. With choking and regurgitating being two of the most common signs of dysphagia, it helps to also be familiar with other, less obvious symptoms.
First – A Word About Treatments
Perhaps this is in the way of letting you know exactly how serious this condition can be, but first let’s look briefly at a few of the treatments available. Sometimes, it can mean that solid foods must be pureed, even breads and grains! It also may be necessary to look at ways to thicken beverages with products like SimplyThick Easy Mix. This is something that can be added to hot or cold beverages in order to prevent aspiration, which can have long-term effects.
Sometimes pharmaceuticals like steroids can shrink the throat or esophagus. In more severe cases when the esophagus is extremely tight, that tube that passes from the throat to the stomach, the esophagus, can be stretched with a balloon. This is one of the more ‘invasive’ treatments, but at times it is necessary. Also, it may need to be repeated after time but sometimes after dilation it might not need further treatments other than dietary. With all that said, let’s look at the more common signs to be aware of.
Common Signs and Symptoms of Dysphagia
Before listing the more common signs and symptoms of dysphagia, it should be said once again that only recurring signs should be cause for concern. Anyone can choke or aspirate a few times in their lifetime but it’s only when these occur regularly should they be cause for alarm. The most common symptoms include:
- Difficulty swallowing
- Painful swallowing
- Feels like food is stuck in the throat or chest
- Acid reflux
- Gagging or coughing when trying to swallow
And again, these are only cause for concern when they are ongoing and frequently experienced. As you can see, many could be caused by other issues. Hoarseness, for example, could be caused by screaming loudly at a sporting event or from an allergy or upper respiratory ailment.
What to Do If You Suspect Dysphagia
The very first thing you should do would be to contact your physician or healthcare provider. Get an accurate diagnosis before assuming you suffer from dysphagia. It could be any number of things causing these signs and symptoms, so you want to be sure of what you are treating. Only with a definite diagnosis can proper treatment be prescribed.
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