SPECIAL FOCUS: DYSPHAGIA
Illustration by Adnan Duane Razack
On average, a person swallows 600 times a day.
Every swallow requires four stages, 25 different
muscles and five nerves. Drinking water or
eating is something most people take for granted,
while others struggle with these basic abilities on a
Swallowing disorders (dysphagia) can be caused
by a variety of issues including medical, neurological,
structural, or complications with medication. Because
of this, each loved one has individual needs and concerns,
especially when in social settings.
Embarrassment from loss of control or gazing onlookers
may cause a loved one to become unwilling to be in a public
venue, or even at a family gathering. As a caregiver, it’s
important to keep instilling a sense of self and independence
for a loved one, yet help them deal with swallowing concerns
as they arise.
QUALITY OF LIFE
There’s no denying that eating is a social activity. Changes to
a person’s ability to eat will surely have a large impact on the
enjoyment of dining with others. Dysphagia can cause poor
nutrition, dehydration, risk of aspiration and overall isolation.
• coughing during or right after eating or drinking
• wet or gurgling sounding voice during or after eating or drinking
• extra effort or time needed to chew or swallow
• food or liquid leaking from or getting stuck in the mouth
• recurring pneumonia or chest congestion after eating
• weight loss or dehydration from not being able to eat enough