A Short Guide to the Impact of Dysphagia on Daily Life

Swallowing is a complex process that is instinctual for most people. In fact, it is often taken for granted until symptoms arise that cause problems. According to the National Foundation of Swallowing Disorders, in the United States, dysphagia affects up to 15 million people, and around 1 in 25 people will experience it in some form in their life. 

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Simply eating and drinking can be challenging—even dangerous—for individuals experiencing this condition. 

Here is a short guide exploring the impact of dysphagia on daily life and a few management strategies for people with this condition.

The Physical and Emotional Impact of Dysphagia

As mentioned above, dysphagia can arise due to various factors, and regardless of the root cause, it can have a serious impact on a person’s physical and emotional wellbeing:

Nutritional Challenges

People who find it difficult to swallow may experience weight loss due to an inability to consume enough food and liquids. This can lead to a compromised immune system, malnutrition, weakness, and fatigue, so it is important to address nutritional challenges quickly to maintain good health.

Social Isolation and Mental Health Problems

People are social creatures, which is why many of us enjoy eating and drinking together. Unfortunately, people with swallowing difficulties may feel self-conscious about their condition, which could cause them to turn down social invitations. In turn, this could lead to social isolation, which could then have a negative effect on their mental health.

Reduced Quality of Life

As well as having a negative effect on one’s mental health, turning down social invitations and avoiding engagements can have a significant impact on a person’s quality of life. Not to mention, dysphagia can make basic tasks such as staying hydrated or taking medication time-consuming and daunting. Small challenges like these can build up, which may result in anxiety, frustration, and reduced overall quality of life.

How to Manage Swallowing Difficulties

As outlined earlier, dysphagia can present unique challenges. However, with effective management strategies and products formulated to make swallowing easier, people with this condition have several options to help them overcome these hurdles:

Utilize Thickening Products

Individuals with swallowing difficulties have varying preferences and requirements when it comes to the texture of their food and drinks. Products such as the SimplyThick food thickener alters the consistency of food and liquid, and by simply mixing these types of products into food and drinks, you can change the viscosity to a texture that is easier to swallow. These products usually come with instructions to help you achieve different textures; however, it is always a good idea to consult a healthcare professional before trying a new product for the first time.

Consult a Professional

When it comes to managing dysphagia, you need to seek guidance from your healthcare provider. They can assess your condition and refer you to specialists such as speech and language therapists and nutritionists. By getting proper help, you will receive a comprehensive diagnosis and a customized treatment or rehabilitation plan.

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