Dysphagia is the medical term for trouble swallowing food or liquid. The condition is more common in the elderly; however, anybody at any age may develop it as a symptom of a wide range of neurological or physical conditions. Some common causes of dysphagia include dementia, throat cancer, or certain medical treatments such as radiation therapy. When a person with this condition is unable to swallow food and liquid properly, they are at a higher risk of complications and other problems, including:
Dehydration can be an issue for people with dysphagia who find it difficult to swallow water and other liquids. When swallowing makes it difficult to get the fluid that we need in our body, symptoms like persistent headaches; tiredness and fatigue; dry skin, hair and nails; and brain fog may occur. In more severe cases, dehydration can cause more serious issues like kidney and urinary tract infections, which is why it is important for people with dysphagia to get the fluid that they need. Adding a product like SimplyThick thickener gel to liquids is an ideal option to prevent dehydration.
When somebody is struggling to swallow their food, they might be unable to get all the nutrients that they need from their diet, which can lead to nutritional deficiencies and cause other health problems. Because of this it is important for people with dysphagia to have a diet plan that allows them to get a diet that is as balanced and nutritious as possible while taking swallowing difficulties into account. For example, this could include adding nutrient powders to smoothies and soups, blending and pureeing fruits and vegetables, and drinking thick protein shakes that are easier to swallow.
Aspiration is a common symptom of dysphagia. This happens when food or liquid ‘goes down the wrong way’ and is inhaled rather than swallowed. When somebody with dysphagia is aspirating particles of food a lot due to swallowing difficulties, this can lead to an infection in the lungs known as aspiration pneumonia.
Tiredness and fatigue are not uncommon in people with dysphagia, since they may not be getting the energy that they need from their food. Tiredness and fatigue can also be common symptoms of other problems that are associated with dysphagia such as dehydration or a nutritional deficiency.
Depression and Low Mood
Somebody with dysphagia may suffer with feelings of depression and low mood for various reasons. Dysphagia can sometimes be a condition that leads to isolation as the person may not feel like they are able to do the things that they normally enjoy such as socializing with friends over food and drinks or entertaining friends and family at home. Symptoms such as regurgitating food or excessive drooling can also be quite embarrassing for the patient which may lead to them spending an increased amount of time at home. Ultimately this can contribute to stronger feelings of depression, low mood, and anxiety.
Dysphagia can occur for many reasons. Any persistent trouble with swallowing should be treated quickly to avoid further health complications.