Swallowing: unless you’re suffering from a sore throat it’s something you do hundreds of times every day without giving it a second thought. As a matter of fact, you probably don’t even notice it most of the time!
However, if you or someone you love is dealing with a condition called dysphagia, you know that the power to swallow is nothing to be taken for granted.
What is Dysphagia?
Put simply, dysphagia is difficulty moving foods or liquids from the mouth to the stomach, or swallowing. It has many causes, including muscle and nerve problems. These can be caused by stroke, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, Parkinson’s disease, or brain or spinal cord injury. Esophageal spasms or scleroderma can also lead to issues with the muscles in the esophagus.
Dysphagia may also occur when something is blocking the esophagus. Conditions such as Gastroesophageal reflux disease, esophagitis, and masses inside or outside of the esophagus can lead to obstructions that make swallowing difficult.
Depending on its severity, dysphagia can be anything from a minor inconvenience to a major health risk. Since it can make it difficult to take in enough food and liquids, weight loss, malnourishment, or dehydration may result. Foreign substances that end up in your airways when you swallow can also lead to respiratory issues, such as pneumonia.
What are the Symptoms?
If you have dysphagia, your symptoms could be mild or severe. They may even bother you for a while and then stop for a time. If you experience any of the following symptoms on a regular basis, it may be time to talk to your doctor.
- Food or liquid comes back up after you swallow, either back into your mouth or into your nose.
- You gag, choke, or cough when you swallow.
- Painful swallowing.
- You feel like something is stuck in your throat or chest.
- Weight loss as a result of difficulty swallowing.
How is Dysphagia Treated?
Depending on its cause, there are many treatments for dysphagia. These may include medications, changes in diet, and surgeries or procedures to widen the esophagus or remove tumors. In some cases, dysphagia can also be treated with exercises to train and strengthen the muscles involved in the swallowing process.
ACP Synchrony Treatment is an effective treatment for dysphagia that combines electrical muscle stimulation with exercises and biofeedback. Through the use of virtual reality, patients and therapists are able to “see the swallow” and identify and target the specific muscle activity required for normal and effective swallowing.
Not only does the virtual reality allow for more targeted therapy, but it can also motivate patients to exercise more intensely and for longer periods of time. This is because it also employs fun, therapeutic, game-like challenges which help them to stay interested and engaged in the rehabilitation process. The result is greater improvement in swallowing performance.
The Davis Community is proud to be the first provider in our area to offer this revolutionary new treatment.
The Davis Community Offers Rehabilitation at Its Finest
The Davis Community has a state-of-the-art rehabilitation center where our residents can exercise and/or recover from their surgeries using modern equipment designed especially for seniors. We take pride in offering the best rehabilitation in Wilmington NC. If you or an aging parent need physical rehabilitation, then visit our Facebook page to learn more about the fitness center at Davis Community. Or, for more information about our retirement community, nursing homes, or skilled nursing services, just give us a call today at 910-566-1200.