Sitting down to dinner with family or friends can be very enjoyable. Taking a drink of water to quench thirst is usually not thought about twice. However, if you are a person with dysphagia, a swallowing problem, eating and drinking may be difficult.
Normal swallowing of food and liquid requires coordination of numerous muscles in the mouth, throat, and esophagus. Swallowing becomes a problem when an impairment of one or more of these muscles reduces a person’s ability to take in food safely and in nutritionally adequate amounts. In addition, there is the danger of aspiration when food or liquid is absorbed into the lungs. aspiration can lead to a life-threatening illness.
In the presence of a devastating illness, dysphagia may be of secondary importance; however, if safe swallowing guidelines are not instituted and enforced, the person’s recovery may be jeopardized.
Although some people show no outward signs of a swallowing problem, the most common signs include:
* coughing during or after food or liquid intake
* wet/gurgled voice while eating
* elevated temperature 30 minutes to one hour after eating
* increased chest congestion after eating or drinking
* difficulty chewing
* fatigue while eating
* multiple swallows needed for one mouthful
* difficulty swallowing
* weight loss associated with increased slowness in eating
* repetitive pneumonia
If you notice these signs of a swallowing problem, one of our speech/language pathologists can conduct an evaluations.
Should a problem exist, treatment is available. No two people are alike, and therefore our Speech/language pathologists develop completely individual treatment. Treatment may include changing diet texture or repositioning the person. Learning a new way to swallow, or exercising weakened muscles, may also be indicated.
What more information? Feel free to give us a call at 781-899-4709 or contact us via email at [email protected].