How to Cope with Dysphagia
Having trouble swallowing food can be an extremely difficult and frustrating condition to have to deal with, but there are ways to make it more manageable. Dysphagia can occur for a variety of reasons, from cancer treatments to suffering a stroke to a head injury, and can be an unexpected and very unwelcome side effect.
The exact treatment and management of dysphagia will depend on the individual and what is causing the problems with swallowing. Some cases will just clear up on their own, while others will be a lifelong condition to cope with.
Seniors are more prone to this condition, but it is not only older people who suffer from it. Once you get a confirmed diagnosis from your doctor and have been given your own specific treatment plan, you might consider ways to make it more manageable for you. This guide can help.
If you’re unable to enjoy lots of different textures and consistencies of food anymore, you can add interest to your meals using flavor instead. Herbs and spices are a great way to make meals more exciting. Why not take up cooking as a new hobby and have fun inventing new recipes or reimagine old favorites with interesting new flavor combinations?
A common symptom of dysphagia is being unable to swallow thin liquids, which ends up ruling out favorite drinks like a warm cup of tea or a cold beer. Even soup can be off the cards. This is where the use of food thickeners is recommended. However, some can make food feel grainy or negatively affect the taste.
By opting for a gel-based thickener like Simply Thick, it can resolve this issue. Made of Xanthium gum, this food thickener doesn’t change the texture, just the consistency, so you don’t have to miss out on any of your favorite liquids.
Eating your main meals at least two hours before going to bed reduces the risk of reflux disturbing your sleep. During the day, stay upright after meals and even take some light exercise after eating to aid digestion.
There are also over-counter-medications for heartburn which can be useful but make sure you seek medical advice if you are taking any other medications which might be affected.
Maintaining a good sitting position can help too. Choose a chair that allows you to sit up with a straight back with your head tilted slightly forwards. This will help food to go down more easily.
Make mealtimes less stressful by giving yourself plenty of time to eat. Chewing food well before swallowing and not feeling under pressure to keep up with everyone else’s pace at the table will help.
Feeling happy and relaxed rather than apprehensive about sitting down to a meal can help alleviate some of the problems associated with dysphagia.
While dysphagia is a condition everyone would rather not have to cope with, if you are suffering from it, help is available to make the situation more bearable and maybe even see you enjoying mealtimes once again.