Swallowing problems, known in the medical world as dysphagia, refers to any condition which makes it harder or impossible to swallow. This can cause other long-term health problems, so it requires treatment to get to the root of the problem. Below we look at four long-term health problems caused by dysphagia.
Many people with dysphagia can no longer enjoy their favorite food or drink, making it very difficult to find the motivation to eat. This can cause other long-term health problems too, especially in children. Not getting enough nutrients can cause slower growth and even fertility problems, especially in young women.
Luckily, Simply Thick has created SimplyThick thickener, which can be added to drinks or soft foods like soup. It can be used with any drinks, even alcohol, carbonated drinks, and fruit juice. This can bring back the enjoyment of eating for many patients with dysphagia.
Mental Health Problems
Dysphagia is a difficult medical condition to live with, especially if you have other things going on at the same time. Not being able to enjoy food like you used to can make you feel anxious if you are invited to a meal with friends or family. It can take the joy out of eating, which causes mental health problems like anxiety, depression, and even eating disorders. Sometimes, you may notice behavioral problems in younger children, as they do not want to sit down for mealtimes.
It can take some time to get used to dysphagia, as with any medical condition. You should speak to your doctor if you are struggling with the mental side of having swallowing difficulties, as they may want to refer you to a therapist or counselor. Dealing with dysphagia is hard, but remember, you are not alone. You can find help and support at the National Foundation of Swallowing Disorders.
Recurrent Chest Infections
When swallowing becomes difficult, it increases the risk of aspiration, which happens when you inhale something that you were meant to swallow. More often than not, this is food or drink, but it can also be foreign objects or saliva. When something unknown enters your lungs, this can cause regular (recurrent) chest infections. The most common is aspiration pneumonia, which requires antibiotics. This may mean regular visits to the hospital.
Malnutrition and Dehydration
As you struggle to eat and drink, it can make it harder to get all the nutrients and calories you need in a day. This can lead to malnutrition, which means your body is not getting the sustenance it needs to thrive and work as it should. The common signs of this include weight loss and extreme tiredness, as your body struggles to function normally.
Dehydration is another common problem associated with dysphagia, as it becomes harder to drink enough water. If this happens, you may need to stay in the hospital and get a drip inserted into your arm, which can pass liquid and nutrients into your bloodstream.
Dysphagia can cause other long-term health problems but most of these can be prevented with the use of medical treatment. Speak to your doctor if you are having issues with swallowing.