I had a client recently who wanted to stop drinking, but also had some difficulties swallowing. I hadn’t realised it is quite a common condition and can be quite complex. Here, a guest writer explains what may be behind it.
Difficulty swallowing, often referred to as dysphagia, is caused by lots of different things. The underlying problem might be in the brain, to do with muscles, certain types of cancer, or something like heartburn. Whatever the reason, it is good to get to know what it is in order to successfully find a way to treat it. This guide has the most common causes of swallowing difficulties and a few ways to find help.
Heartburn and Acid Reflux
if this list was a top ten, heartburn would be number one on the list. Acid reflux conditions bring about so many other conditions that it is difficult to manage and keep track of them all. Observing a food diary is a good place to start, so that you can begin to get a clearer sense of when you are affected and how badly it affects your ability to swallow.
A condition that affects mobility and core strength, cerebral palsy severely impacts the ability to swallow food and drink. This is one of the conditions on the list where it will be helpful for the patient in question to use something like a thickener supplement such as SimplyThick for honey-like consistency and to utilize every tool that dysphagia sufferers have available.
A stroke happens when the blood flow to the brain is interrupted. It can cause devastating damage to the victim’s ability to look after themselves and function independently. Some people may have to undergo swallowing therapies to get back what they lost.
Dementia is well-known as a disease that affects a person’s ability to remember and general brain capacity, but one other major symptom of this condition is dysphagia. People with dementia may lose the ability to eat and drink properly in the later stages of dementia, and it is something that needs looking after to avoid further complications such as malnutrition.
Mouth or Throat Cancer
The most common symptoms of mouth or throat cancer are mouth ulcers that don’t heal. This can be joined by trouble swallowing, sores, pain and teeth decay. All of these things are big indicators that cancer may be the underlying problem, and it is vital to get health intervention as soon as possible so there can be the best possible outcome for it.
Cleft Lip or Cleft Palate
A cleft lip and cleft palate are evident from birth. As a baby and small infant, they can cause problems with eating and swallowing too and a range of discomfort. It can be visibly spotted when the lip is affected, but trickier to diagnose when it is a cleft palate. However, both have similar symptoms like an inefficient latch during breast or bottle feeding, and aversion or clear discomfort while eating during the weaning phase.
Swallowing difficulties can happen for a whole number of reasons that are heavily researched and treated all over the world. Whatever the underlying cause may be, there is a way forward if you get the right help.