Swallowing disorders (or the medical term dysphagia) have a number of causes. The can be the result of a neurological condition which has affected the nerves that control the swallowing mechanism in our bodies. Or they can be caused by an obstruction in the throat, such as cancer. As well as these causes, swallowing disorders can develop at birth or arise from old age. Here are a number of treatment options available to patients that have a swallowing disorder.
1. Swallowing therapy
If your swallowing disorder is the result of a mouth, throat or neurological condition, you will probably be referred to a specialist. This specialist is known as a speech language therapist. These therapists are trained to help people with dysphagia. They teach them certain muscle exercises that will improve their ability to swallow.
2. Changes to diet
A speech language therapist can also provide advice on foods that you will find much easier to swallow. This might include eating soft and pureed food for adults. You may also be advised to speak with a dietitian. The dietitian will give you advice on how to ensure you are getting all your vital nutrients when you are making changes to your diet.
Depending on the cause of the swallowing disorder, it may be possible to treat the condition with medication. If the condition is caused by damage to the oesophagus, medication that prevents stomach acid from reaching this area may improve the ability to swallow. Antibiotics have also been effective. They will treat infections in the throat that have resulted in dysphagia.
4. Feeding tubes
Some swallowing disorder are severe where very limited or no liquids or solids can be swallowed. If this is the case, the medical team supporting you may recommend the use of feeding tubes. Feeding tubes will either be fed down the nasal passage or straight into the stomach. You should be informed of the advantages and disadvantages of each before you make a decision.
If your swallowing disorder is caused by an obstruction in the oesophagus, such as a tumor, a surgical procedure may be required in order to remove this obstruction. If the obstruction is unable to be removed, a mesh tube may be inserted into your oesophagus in order to increase its size so that food and liquid can pass.
During this procedure, a device is placed down your oesophagus that will gradually dilate and expand the passage so that swallowing of food and liquid can resume. This treatment is usually used in patients who are having swallowing difficulty caused by an obstruction.
In order to know what the right treatment is for your swallowing disorder, your doctor will need to establish the cause. So, the first step on your route to dealing with this disorder is to seek medical attention.
Thank you for reading this post on treatment options for swallowing disorders. We hope that you have found the information helpful, and we wish you well in your recovery.