Individuals who suffer from dysphagia experience difficulty in swallowing. Certain persons might have difficulties when they are trying to swallow food, liquid or even their own saliva, while others might experience pain when swallowing; then there are those who cannot swallow anything. These kinds of problems that occur when swallowing indicate that patients are challenged when trying to eat food or drink liquids, which can make it difficult to maintain good health.
Following are the two kinds of dysphagia: high (or oropharyngeal) dysphagia and low (or oesophageal) dysphagia. The occurrence of high dysphagia is related to difficulties in the ability to swallow that occur in the throat or mouth. It is extremely common to see symptoms of dysphagia in victims of a stroke. In cases of low dysphagia, the symptoms surface in the oesophagus, which can be caused by viruses or cancer-related surgeries.
Dysphagia can be caused by many different things including a stroke, which is one of the most common causes. These symptoms can happen whenever any of the muscles, nerves or passageways that are utilized when the act of swallowing occurs are not functioning correctly. For instance, patients who have suffered a stroke can develop dysphagia that results from a lessening of cooperation between the muscles of the throat and the mouth. Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy as well as motor neuron disease are the other causes of neurological origin.
It sometimes happens that these symptoms are a result of the narrowing in the throat or the oesophagus, or an obstruction in these areas. This condition can occur due to lung or mouth cancer, radiotherapy, a cleft lip and palate, gastro- oesophageal reflux disease (or GORD), or bacteria. Dysphagia may also result from affectations of the muscles, which aid in the passage of food down the oesophagus. Achalasia is one of these conditions. This is when the muscles of the oesophagus become so stiff that food and liquid cannot pass through to the stomach. Scleroderma, in which the immune system attacks healthy tissue and causes the stiffening of the muscles in the throat and oesophagus, is another of these conditions.
This disease can be due to nothing else than getting older, when the mouth and throat muscles that are used in swallowing can grow weak. Dysphagia is more commonly seen in older persons, but medical treatment is easily found for symptoms of dysphagia that are related to aging.
It is imperative that the physician learn the causes of the patient's illness so that a proper medical plan of treatment can be implemented. The most prevalent reason would be stroke dysphagia. A great deal of persons discover that liquid medicines and food in the form of liquids are helpful in reducing the problem when it occurs after having had a stroke. Exercises exist that are specifically designed to help the patient swallow, however, in some cases these exercises will not work, and a feeding tube might be needed.
In cases where dysphagia is so acute that the individual is unable to swallow even medicine and food in liquid form, either a temporary or permanent feeding tube might need to be added. This is only used as a last option when alternative methods of treatment do not work. Prior to the development of this phase, a reduction in the amount of mouthfuls of food, combined with a more thorough chewing of the food, plus the addition of liquid to food, or even blending the food until it becomes liquid, can be very instrumental in helping the individual to swallow. Patience can also be helpful, because a lot of individuals become anxious when they experience problems, and this makes the situation worse.
Some of the medical signs of dysphagia are: not being able to swallow or feeling pain when swallowing. A person suffering from dysphagia not only gets the feeling that food is stuck in his throat or chest, but also brings food back at times, or coughs and chokes during the process of swallowing. Patients might experience a sudden and inexplicable weight loss and experience the frequent occurrence of infections related to the lungs.
The condition known as dysphagia can cause other medical complications or related diseases. For instance, patients who have high dysphasia are prone to getting an infection of the lungs called aspiration pneumonia, which happens when the patient gets a parcel of food stuck in their lungs. This is caused due to the opening of the inlet to the lungs while swallowing as a result of damaged muscles that are unable to close the larynx. Another issue is that of the weakened oesophageal wall, which can precede another complication by causing a pocket to develop outside the oesophagus, which can catch swallowed food that might return to the throat when the individual is in the prone position. Extreme loss of weight is also a significant medical issue that can be caused due to the narrowing down of the oesophagus. Food stays in the oesophagus and prevents additional food and liquids from being able to reach the stomach.
Dysphagia may be treated in many different ways, which include muscular exercises, change in diet, as well as surgical procedure. Dysphagia can be controlled and treated without having to resort to surgical procedures in a number of cases. For instance, a few individuals who have had a stroke that developed into dysphagia discover that exercising the muscles can improve the stability and co-ordination needed in order to swallow.
If you are unable to swallow pills, there are other available forms of medications. The first thing to be done is to discover whether or not there is more than one version of your medication that is available, as sometimes there is a choice between a pill or liquid medication or a dispersible, buccal or oro-dispersible tablet. Certain medications can only be purchased when a physician prescribes them, because they are not over-the-counter drugs that can be sold in a drugstore. In any case, take the advice of a pharmacist who may be able to furnish all necessary details pertaining to the subject.
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