What is Dysphagia?
Dysphagia is the medical term used to describe swallowing difficulties. It is often caused by other health conditions that they are being treated for, which can affect their eating, drinking and swallowing abilities. Some people with dysphagia have problems swallowing certain foods or liquids, while others can’t swallow at all.
What causes Dysphagia?
Dysphagia is usually caused by another health condition for example stroke, brain injury or a progressive condition, e.g. Parkinson’s disease, dementia, motor neurone disease or tumours to mouth or throat.
What are the symptoms?
Dysphagia has many signs and symptoms including:
Coughing or choking when eating or drinking
Bringing food back up, sometimes through the nose
A sensation that food is stuck in your throat or chest
Inability to control food or saliva in the mouth.
Being unable to chew food properly
A wet-sounding gurgly voice when eating or drinking
What are the implications of Dysphagia?
Dysphagia is a serious medical condition and needs to be medically assessed. The result of not being able to eat and drink properly can result in many problems including:
Frequent chest infections from inhaled food or liquid
Dehydration & poor nutrition
Unexplained weight loss
Loss of interest in food
Treatment for Dysphagia
Swallowing is a very complex process and Dysphagia can affect different phases of the swallow. Your medical team will try to address the underlying cause of the problem.
The symptoms need to be managed and depending on your specific type of Dysphagia, this may include:
Changing your diet. This might mean using thickened liquids or modified texture foods.
Changing your position while eating. This might mean eating upright, tilting your head back, or bending your neck forward.
Practicing special exercises to strengthen your lips and tongue
Learning special swallowing techniques
Eating & Drinking Management
It is important for persons with Dysphagia to maintain and ensure adequate nutrition and hydration whilst implementing safe eating habits.
Thickened foods and liquids can make swallowing easier and are safer for people with dysphagia and thickeners are indicated when food and liquids need to be thickened to a specific consistency level in order for them to swallow safely. They act by slowing down the transit of fluids to allow the patient more time to co-ordinate their swallow.
There are many commercial thickeners available on the market which can be used to change the consistency and texture of food liquids. Clear gum based thickeners are preferred due to their improved stability and palatability. Starch based thickeners tend to be unstable as they thicken over time, separate on contact with saliva and are more grainy in texture. Seneopro Visco Instant Clear is a gum based thickener offering excellent cost in use.
Smoothfood Gelea Hot / Cold
Pureed food to increase the quality of life
Dysphagia or chewing and swallowing disorders due to old age or illness make it necessary to offer meals in pureed / mashed form. This eliminates the need to chew and makes swallowing easier .
With smoothfood it is possible to produce high-quality pureed food in a form that consists exclusively of the pureed food, liquid (broth, stock, etc.) and a vegetarian, allergen-free and tasteless gelling agent. The proportion of pureed food in the end product is always at least 70%.
The meals produced according to the smoothfood principle can hardly be distinguished from the original in terms of appearance and taste – thanks to the help of modern, inexpensive silicone molds .
The enrichment of the food into a high-calorie meal is also no problem. Simply replace part of the liquid with, for example, high-quality vegetable oils, butter or cream. The soft gel structure leads to an increased release of aromas and thus to an increased appetite for those affected.
Studies, such as those of the University of Erlangen from 2017, show that an authentic meal presentation of the passed food has a significant influence on the amount consumed for people with chewing and swallowing disorders . This can be achieved today with modern binders such as the GELEA series with the aid of silicone molds and / or other kitchen aids such as piping bags.
Since the binding agents are gelling agents in terms of their functional principle, the consistency of the pureed food can be controlled via the added amount of liquid and / or binding agent in order to be able to offer those affected by chewing and swallowing disorders the optimal consistency in line with IDDSI levels.