Impactful Ways to Manage Dysphagia
Dysphagia is characterized most predominantly by painful swallowing and a sensation of food being stuck in your chest. If you are struggling with this condition, you may develop anxiety around mealtimes or even drinking. It is always worth figuring out the underlying cause with your doctor, but there are things you can do in the meantime to help manage the symptoms. The post below has some impactful ways to manage dysphagia, and everything is worth exploring.
Typical Symptoms of Dysphagia
If you have been diagnosed, or are waiting for an official confirmation that your issues are because of dysphagia, you may be suffering from any of the following symptoms:
- Eating or drinking makes you choke
- Swallowing is painful
- Food could feel stuck when eating
- Frequent heartburn episodes
- Chest infections
These symptoms are naturally concerning, and it is always a good idea to talk it through with your doctor if you haven’t yet. There are lots of reasons why you may be struggling, so finding the root of the problem is the only way to find a solution. Below, there are some ways that the condition can be managed.
Keep a Food Diary
Your first course of action is to monitor what you’re eating and look for the triggers. There are common foods that can make swallowing more difficult like heavy carbs, tough meat, and spicy meals. However, everyone is different so what makes your symptoms worse might be different from another patient. This is where keeping a food diary comes in handy. You write down what you eat and any symptoms that happen, and then you can use this data to avoid or adapt where appropriate.
Exploring Thickener Products
Thickeners like the SimplyThick EasyMix product are made for slowing down food or drink as it moves down your esophagus. By doing this, the act of swallowing becomes safer and more manageable. Combine this with a modified diet and you should be able to eat with minimal pain. Thickeners are designed to facilitate easier mealtimes, and that is exactly what they do. You can choose to add them to both food and drinks, and as long as you follow the instructions, everything should work out. Always consult with your doctor before self-medicating to ensure whether it is the right course of action for your specific condition.
Think About Your Posture
The way you sit while you eat or drink is highly significant when thinking about how to manage your symptoms. Posture is important because when you slouch during mealtimes, your food has a less clear path to work its way to where it needs to be. If you sit up straight, you give yourself a better chance of swallowing more easily. It also helps to hold your shoulders up as opposed to sitting forward because this opens up your esophagus too.
Speech and Language Therapy
A speech and language therapist will have plenty of suggestions to help you in the right direction. You can get referred through your doctor or self-refer after a diagnosis. There are swallowing therapies to explore that are highly effective and specific tips around eating too. These therapy techniques can be highly effective in helping you manage your condition.
Modifying the Way You Eat
Given that eating is the main difficulty with dysphagia, there are things you can do in this area that make it more feasible. Things like cutting up your food into small pieces, taking your time while chewing, and considering blending your meals are all worth the exploration.
Dysphagia is a difficult condition, but with the right input and advice, you can make life easier. Deal with the problem head on and make the necessary adjustments to enhance your level of comfort and avoid complications like malnutrition.