Dysphagia is difficult or abnormal swallowing. This is not a normal part of aging but is due to an underlying cause that affects the muscles involved in swallowing. This problem can occur in the mouth and throat, the esophagus (which connects the throat and stomach), or sometimes all three and can lead to choking.
A common cause of dysphagia in adults is stroke. Strokes occur when a blood clot travels to the brain and cuts off blood supply to a part of the brain by blocking a blood vessel. Any function of the body controlled by that part of the brain is then affected. When a stroke involves the part of the brain that controls face muscles or overall consciousness (sleepiness), the patient may have trouble swallowing.
The muscles of the face, mouth and tongue control your ability to chew food into safe-size bites. They also push the food to the back of your throat. When these muscles are weakened or paralyzed, or you have a loss of feeling near the mouth, you may not be able to safely push food to the back of your mouth and into your esophagus. As a result, you may feel like there is a blockage in your neck. This can cause coughing, drooling or regurgitation and lead to choking.
If you are diagnosed with dysphagia or notice symptoms of choking after a stroke, it is best to get ongoing treatment from a speech therapist. This can be done in the hospital, in nursing facilities or at home. Speech therapists can provide exercises to gain strength back in the facial muscles in addition to providing coping strategies to prevent choking. In addition, dietary changes and eating habits can be adjusted to assist with treatment. Eating upright at 90 degrees and tucking your chin down while swallowing can help drive food properly into the esophagus. It is important to get treatment early because dysphagia causes choking which can lead to increased illness and death.
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Aging, it’s inevitable...From changes in our bones, reductions in muscle mass and strength, weight gain as our metabolism slows down and a myriad of other things it is important to do as much as possible to fight the aging process.But sometimes, no matter if you follow all the right guidance you can be diagnosed with a condition that can cause detrimental effects on your health.