Did you know? It takes 50 pairs of muscles and three different stages—oral, pharyngeal, and esophageal—to move food from the mouth to the stomach.[i] According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, “dysphagia occurs when there is a problem with the neural control or the structures involved in any part of the swallowing process.”[ii]
One in 17 people will experience a swallowing difficulty in their lifetime.[iii] Often caused by another serious condition such as stroke, ALS, head or neck cancer, Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s Disease, a dysphagia diagnosis exacerbates an already stressful and frightening situation. When eating and drinking become difficult, patients are at risk for choking or aspiration pneumonia, as well as dehydration and malnutrition.[iv]
General signs and symptoms of a swallowing disorder include:
- Coughing during or right after eating or drinking
- Wet- or gurgle-sounding voice during or after eating or drinking
- Food or liquid leaking from the mouth or getting stuck in the mouth
- Recurring pneumonia or chest congestion after eating
- Reduced enjoyment of eating or drinking
Fortunately, there is hope for those struggling with swallowing disorders. Ed Steger, president of the National Foundation of Swallowing Disorders, says: “Swallowing safely for someone with dysphagia requires diligence and focus… A speech-language pathologist specializing in swallowing disorders can assist those with dysphagia in establishing a safe swallow routine.”
In addition to working with a speech-language pathologist, there are several other ways dysphagia patients and caregivers can work to create a safe and pleasant meal for all—before, during, and after a meal. For example, finding products made specifically for modified diets—such as the Thick-It® brand’s suite of foods, beverages, and thickeners—making sure the patient is sitting upright at mealtime, and creating a quiet, well-lit, comfortable atmosphere, are just a few of the ways to help dysphagia patients dine with dignity. For these tips and more, download our free, easy-to-read infographic on safe swallowing.
As education is central to the Thick-It® brand’s mission, patients and caregivers can find additional resources and learn more about our products specifically developed for people with dysphagia at Thick-It®.com.
Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have about the use of Thick-It® products. The information contained herein is general and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment in any manner.