By Adem Lewis / in , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , /

Dysphagia refers to a group of conditions
characterized by difficulty swallowing. There are two main classes of problems that
can lead to swallowing disorders: Neuromuscular problems:
– Muscular disorders that affect skeletal muscles, such as muscular dystrophy, or myasthenia
gravis… – Diseases of the nervous system that compromise
the way the brain controls the swallowing reflex, such as stroke, Parkinson’s disease,
or multiple sclerosis… – Weakened muscles and/or impaired coordination
as a result of aging. This class commonly affects the first two
phases of swallowing. Narrowing of the throat or esophagus due to
throat cancer, esophageal cancer and formation of small sacs or rings in the walls of the
esophagus. Gastroesophageal reflux disease – GERD – is
also a common cause. In GERD, scars resulting from stomach acid
injuries may obstruct the esophagus and cause difficulty swallowing. This class mostly affects the third phase
of swallowing. For people with dysphagia, eating becomes
a challenge. The consequences may be serious. Someone who cannot swallow safely is at high
risk of choking, pulmonary aspiration and may not be able to eat enough to stay healthy. Treatment depends on the cause of the condition:
– Muscle strength and coordination exercises may be recommended for some. – A change in the position of the head and
neck when eating could be beneficial to others. – Right choice of food and drink is important
for most. Soft textured food and thickened drinks are
recommended for safe swallowing. – Surgery may be needed to remove narrowed
parts of the esophagus. – Finally, patients with severe dysphagia
and recurrent aspiration may have to resort to tube feeding to get nutrition to the body.

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