Have you heard of Dysphagia? Does your loved one live with the symptoms? Most of us are not aware that there is a medical term for “difficulty swallowing,” but once you or a loved one suffer from this issue, you might research ways to ease the discomfort.

Dysphagia is a word to describe when a person has a difficult time swallowing. It can be dangerous as well as uncomfortable for those suffering with this ailment.

First, let’s talk about what the process of swallowing entails. You might not have known that when you gulp the last sip of Slurpee or quench your thirst with a cool glass of water, a complicated process is catalized.

Every time you swallow, 50 muscles and many nerves work together to bring your food and drink from mouth to stomach. There are three phases of swallowing:

  1. Oral Phase: this is the chewing phase. Our jaw, teeth, tongue and saliva work together to “liquify” any solids and break down the food into a more manageable form.

  2. Pharyngeal Phase: Food is pushed to the back of the mouth and down into the throat, and breathing stops, to avoid solid or liquid entering the airway and causing choking.

  3. Esophageal Phase: Food enters the esophagus, the last stop before the stomach. This phase only takes around three seconds to complete!

The swallowing process is incredible – it’s multifaceted and we don’t even think about it day-to-day! So it’s no wonder that there are many possible complications as the process ensues, especially as we age. As you might have guessed, your brain controls this entire process.

Dysphagia occurs when either the brain no longer controls the process correctly or any of the aforementioned parts involved in the process malfunction. There are many pieces of the puzzle that might have problems. The swallowing process is interrupted as some point, and this can cause pain and discomfort for the patient.

There are two types of dysphagia that are named based off of where the difficulty is located:

  1. Oral Dysphagia – occurs in the mouth. This can be due to weakened tongue muscles, or problems chewing or moving food around the mouth.

  2. Pharyngeal Dysphagia – occurs in the throat. This kind of dysphagia is connected to the brain, and can be caused by Parkinson’s Disease, a stroke, or another neurological condition.

  3. Esophageal Dysphagia – occurs in the esophagus. This is usually due to an obstruction in the esophagus.

Any number of ailments can cause the dysphagia, including weakened muscles, a stroke, or surgery. It is very common that a person would experience this symptom as they age.

Thankfully, there are many options of care to make them more comfortable:

  • Limit alcohol & smoking

  • Eat small portions frequently

  • Increase soft & liquid food intake

  • Limit sticky foods

  • Take smaller bites, and cut food into smaller pieces

If you or a loved one are dealing with dysphagia, we can help! You can stay at home while having a Caregiver assist you with daily activities and helping you cope with your dysphagia. Call us today to find out more:

(570) 587-4700

Sources:

https://www.rightathome.net/blog/dysphagia-difficulty-swallowing-in-older-adults

https://www.comfortkeepers.com/info-center/category/senior-health-and-wellbeing/article/dysphagia-in-seniors

https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/dysphagia

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/177473.php

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