People suffering from dysphagia not only have swallowing difficulties, but they are also at a higher risk of choking, dehydration and aspiration. In the US, around 1 in 25 people are reported to have been affected by this illness. Dysphagia is more common in older people but can also be commonplace in expectant women during pregnancy or people who have suffered a stroke. Luckily, there are a variety of things you can try at home to help if you are experiencing symptoms of dysphagia. Keep reading below to find out more.
Firstly, it’s vital to note that food thickeners do not contain any nutrition. When using them, you must be mindful to ensure that you are consuming enough calories to sustain a healthy diet. You also need to be aware that they can sometimes change the effectiveness of certain medications. So, consult a doctor before you make these an addition to your diet.
However, food thickeners play a vital role in preventing choking when consuming liquids as they change their consistency, making them safer and easier to swallow. Products like Simply Thick are not only quick to prepare, but they mix easily with both hot and cold beverages.
There are a variety of exercises you can try at home to improve the ability to swallow. They are popular amongst people suffering from dysphagia and don’t require much time to complete. Also, these helpful exercises can be done from anywhere and at your convenience. Information and guidance on how to do these are readily available from your doctor, health books and also online.
Modify Your Diet
Alongside food thickeners, you may also want to consider changing your diet by consuming foods that help ease dysphagia symptoms. You must eat food that is soft and easy to swallow, but you can also try to prevent oropharyngeal dysphagia by avoiding certain foods which cause gassiness and acid reflux. You can find a list of both safe and trigger foods here.
For people who can’t take medication for reasons such as pregnancy, allergies, or those who simply wish to try a homoeopathic alternative, there are many safe and recommended options. Herbs, licorice, peppermint and even marshmallows are known to have soothing effects when battling your dysphagia symptoms. Again, remember to consult with a doctor before trying these.
If you want to make living with the side effects of dysphagia more bearable, you may need to eliminate certain lifestyle choices. If you are a smoker or someone who consumes alcohol regularly, removing this from your daily routine can be extremely effective. If you need help or guidance for nicotine or alcohol addiction, don’t hesitate to seek help from professionals.
Hopefully, these tips have been helpful. If, after following the advice above, you are still struggling, you can speak to your GP about potential surgery. This is widely used to treat patients with dysphagia and esophageal problems and can drastically improve your wellbeing.