What is Dysphagia? Diagnosis and Tips

Dysphagia is literally defined as difficulty swallowing. Of course, that is the simplified version of what those with dysphagia may be suffering from.

Dysphagia makes chewing solid foods and keeping them in your mouth a frustrating and difficult task. Some people practice special ways of swallowing in order to alleviate swallowing problems. However, this only works for some people. Others may need changes in the foods that they consume.

Dysphagia also raises the risk of aspiration. This is when liquid or what is contained in the stomach is inhaled into the lungs.

What causes dysphagia?

There are multiple causes of dysphagia, ranging from trauma to the neck to strokes. One of the most commonly seen causes of dysphagia is Parkinson’s disease.

Most people that have Parkinson’s disease usually have difficulty with swallowing or dysphagia. This is because they can not keep control of their muscles which includes the muscles in their throat. Dysphagia also raise the chance of getting pneumonia in people that have Parkinson’s disease.

How is Dysphagia Diagnosed?

If you can’t swallow normally or are having trouble with swallowing, you should consult with your local doctor. She or he should order a consultation with a speech pathologist. This speech pathologist will assess your ability to swallow and evaluate the chance of aspiration. Based on those findings, your doctor will make the appropriate diagnosis along with a treatment plan to treat your dysphagia.

Tips for chewing and swallowing with Dysphagia:

Body Posture. Sit at a ninety degree angle. Make sure your head is slightly tipped. Make sure you either stay seated or stand upright for about fifteen to 20 minutes after consuming your meal.

Pace Yourself. Always cut your food into small pieces, and remember to chew constantly before swallowing.

Dysphagia can lead to aspiration pneumonia, and even death by asphyxiation. Symptoms of dysphagia should be brought to your physicians attention so that proper diagnosis and treatment can begin.

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