Dysphagia can be distressing, but the more you understand the causes and find ways to tackle the problem, the more successful you will be in overcoming the dysphagia. Although it is important to talk to your family and friends, it is also important to get professional advice that can tell you what the cause of your problem is, offer help, and recommend treatment.
Family and friends
When you talk to your family and friends, or to people who are caring for you, tell them what you are concerned about, especially if the prospect of eating worries you and you feel alone and isolated. They will then be able to help you find out more about dysphagia. Armed with that knowledge, not only will you be able to seek advice and treatment, your concerns should also be overcome.
Primary Healthcare Practitioner
Your Healthcare Practitioner can assess your ability to swallow and decide whether or not you need to be referred to a hospital specialist for further investigations, or another health professional for treatment. They can also provide or advise you on certain products that make food easier to swallow.
Speech and Language Therapist
You may be surprised that speech and language therapists can help you if you find it hard to swallow. Speech, eating and drinking use many of the same muscles and parts of the nervous system, and you may remember that the larynx plays an important role in ensuring that food passes from your mouth to stomach safely when you are able to swallow normally.
Speech and Language Therapists for example can teach you exercises that may strengthen muscles in your jaw and throat to improve chewing and swallowing. They can teach you to breathe differently so that you are better equipped to deal with your swallowing difficulties. Speech and Language Therapists can also advise on the appropriate texture and thickness of liquids and foods.
Dietitians can give you advice on what foods are easiest to eat, how to prepare food so that it is palatable, and help you maintain a balanced diet. They can also give you advice on how to fortify meals, e.g. with cream and butter, to ensure you meet your energy and nutritional requirements. They will also advise you about foods that you should avoid, and give you advice on the best products available to make food easier for you to swallow.