Difficulty with swallowing is known medically as dysphagia. That can be a very discomforting problem that can cause a lot of anxiety for sufferers. Patients frequently relate the sensation as food being stuck in the throat somewhere. Swallowing, as a vital process, is taken quite for granted even as a number of people may have gone through swallowing problems some time or the other. This infrequent occurrence is not concerning. However, it may lead to serious implications if such swallowing difficulties continue. Swallowing trouble might be brought on by various issues such as blockages and muscle and nerve disorders. The process of swallowing is rendered complex due to the participation of numerous nerves and muscles. And when trouble starts, we become more attuned to the actual process of swallowing, when chewing food and trying to get it down the oesophagus and into the stomach. This may not be the easiest of things to do for patients with swallowing difficulties.
Although swallowing problems can be alleviated to a great extent by slow eating and proper chewing, patients with swallowing issues could be suffering from the blockade of the main airway if they are found to be choking or having difficulties in breathing or swallowing. Painful swallowing must be brought to the doctor’s attention, as he or she can do a proper physical examination. Among the various queries that a doctor may have, the foremost is whether or not the patient suffers difficulties in swallowing liquids, food items, as well as tablets.
Tablet crushing, however, should be discussed with a medical professional, as there are implications to it, both legal and clinical. For patients who find it painful to swallow pills, a different form of medication may be prescribed. Pills may either be broken into two or four so as to render them easier to swallow, or be crushed completely and dissolved in water. It’s a fact that any time a patient swallows a tablet, they should use water even if they do not experience difficulty swallowing.
The particular cause that leads to the swallowing problem determines the path of treatment to a great extent. Insertion of a feeding tube may serve not only as a temporary measure but also as a solution for a longer period of time in certain cases. This entails the temporary insertion of a tube inside the stomach through the nasal cavity or the abdomen until such a time that a state of normal feeding is attained.
To ascertain the causes of dysphagia, it may be necessary for the medical practitioner to undertake a series of tests. Some things they may look for are tumours of the pharynx or some sort of obstruction. These tumours can be surgically removed or treated with radiation therapy or chemotherapy and only happen in serious cases. Among the questions asked by the doctor are whether coughing or choking takes place post meals, whether there is any effect in the voice, if there are any further symptoms, as well as if the patient is undergoing any medication. The doctor would determine the cause of the swallowing difficulties based on the response to these queries.
In addition to choking or chewing difficulties, there can also be other issues, like excessive saliva or dribbling, which can be a problem with people who have multiple sclerosis. MS sufferers have a 30-40% chance of experiencing swallowing difficulties. Such swallowing problems are adequately attended to by a team of medical personnel. The patient receives counselling on which food may be swallowed with comparative ease from a team of professionals comprising of radiologists, speech therapists and dieticians.
Following a small number of simple steps can greatly alleviate swallowing problems. Correct posture helps the condition, along with being relaxed when it’s meal time. Hurried meals and chatting while eating ought to be avoided. However, our busy schedules render it difficult for us to find ample time to devote to ourselves and our health. Meal times need to be devoid of any stress, particularly if someone has problems swallowing.
Among the measures to be taken to make it easier for the food to go down the system to the stomach are to drink sufficient water to soften the food between mouthfuls, as well as to maintain an upright posture for minimum half an hour after a meal. It should be kept in mind that in case of swallowing difficulties, which are related to other clinical symptoms that require oral intake of medicines, there is always a choice of liquid medication that alleviates pain and stress related to swallowing.
Those treatments may lessen the anxiety about taking medication for individuals who have a hard time swallowing pills. Liquid medication not only helps the patient find relief from pain but also ensures him an improved quality of life as a result.
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