Dysphagia is a condition that affects the capacity to swallow. It is often caused for a variety of reasons and associated with a number of conditions.
Some people may experience mild symptoms, and others could suffer from severe cases. However it manifests, it needs managing properly to avoid food aversion or problems with malnutrition. If you have noticed any of the following five signs, it is time to schedule an appointment with your doctor to see what the best course of action is.
Pain When Swallowing
The first common tell of dysphagia setting in is difficulty and pain while swallowing. This is not restricted to just food, it is liquids too.
The pain is almost like bruising or stabbing and varies in severity case by case. Other pain symptoms that are associated with and caused by this condition are heartburn and muscular issues.
Regurgitation refers to the bringing back up of food or liquid. This is a wholly unpleasant experience, and may even deter sufferers from engaging with meal times.
So, why does this happen? The muscles used to swallow and ingest food are affected here, and that means sometimes when people with this condition have a meal or a drink their bodies physically cannot keep it down where it is supposed to go and it simply comes back up to the surface.
Coughing and Choking
Coughing or choking during eating sessions is a common symptom. If this is happening excessively there is a serious risk of injury or death, and this is one of those red flag moments to seek professional input. Choking is a traumatic experience, especially when it occurs regularly and frequent coughing is also hard to overcome. It can lead to a decrease in food intake which may cause excessive, dangerous weight loss, a deficit in vitamin intake, and more.
Thankfully, there are ways to alleviate the problem, such as products like Simplythick gel thickener that modify the thickness and therefore make it easier to swallow.
The Stuck Food Sensation
People with dysphagia often describe a feeling of their food being stuck behind the breastbone or the sensation of slow motion as it goes down the throat. That is because it is literally stuck while the muscle struggles to keep up with what is happening and catches up to the process it is supposed to be performing. It can cause panic and increase anxiety around meal times.
Finally, if you have noticed that you are drooling more while eating or after food or drink, it is worth getting this checked out. Saliva is used by the body to naturally increase the capacity to swallow, so your body has noticed that you are struggling and has gone into overdrive trying to overcorrect. This may be uncomfortable and unpleasant and cause embarrassment, leading to increased withdrawal from social situations.
The ripple effect of these symptoms is not something to be dismissed. Dysphagia may be an indication of something even more serious that needs addressing immediately by your health team.
Never ignore these symptoms, and protect your health.