Published March 24, 2018

Having difficulty in swallowing is referred to as dysphagia and is the inability of an individual to swallow liquid or food easily. Individuals with dysphagia experience a hard time eating or drinking and often tend to choke during the process of swallowing. In many cases, the difficulty in swallowing can be temporary and it goes away after a while; but for others, it is a continuous issue that requires proper treatment.   

Symptoms

As mentioned earlier, this problem can be mild and may come and go but it can also be severe and get worse with time. Here are some symptoms that can help you in determining if you have dysphagia and need medical care:  

  • Having difficulties in swallowing both liquids and foods in one go
  • Coughing, choking, and/or gagging while swallowing
  • Liquids and food come back through your nose, mouth or throat once you have swallowed
  • Feeling of liquid and food being stick somewhere in your chest or throat
  • Experiencing pain as you swallow
  • Feeling a pressure or pain in the chest as you swallow or experiencing heartburn
  • Drastic weight loss due to inability of consuming liquid and food

It is essential to consult your doctor if these symptoms persist.  

Effective Treatments

The treatments for dysphagia typically depend on the kind of problem you are experiencing. In mild cases, the difficulty in swallowing can be treated very easily. In severe cases, you might have to get medical treatment done by a specialist. There are several ways you can treat or prevent swallowing difficulties. Following are some of the ways you can treat mild issues so that you can drink and eat safely and easily:

Right Position

Ensure that you are sitting or standing in the right position as you eat or drink:

  • Stand or sit forming a 90 degree so you are upright.
  • Slightly tilt forward your head as you eat or drink
  • Once you are done, stay in the same position for at least 10 to 15 minutes.

Eating

Keep in mind the following when you eat:

  • Ensure there are no distractions when you eat
  • Avoid multitasking and focus on drinking or eating
  • Don’t talk when your mouth is full of food
  • Take small bites and slowly eat
  • Before swallowing, thoroughly chew your food
  • Eat ½ teaspoon of food per bite

Swallowing

When you are swallowing:

  • Gently cough if the liquid or food gets stuck in your throat or gently clear throat and try swallowing again. Repeat this step, if needed.
  • Focus on frequent swallowing.

Medications

When you have to take medications:

  • Try crushing the pills and mixing them in a pudding, applesauce or water.
  • For pills that can’t be crushed, inquire from your doctor or the pharmacist the best way of eating them or if they are available in liquid form.

If the swallowing is very painful or if you are hardly able to eat and drink, it is important that you immediately consult a doctor. Even if there isn’t any pain but the problems doesn’t go away, make sure you seek medical attention so that you can begin eating and drinking properly and safely. To make an appointment with Dr. Parikh at Health One Family Medicine, visit http://www.healthonemedicine.com/ or call (469)262-5762.

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