What Causes Swallowing Difficulties (Dysphagia)?
Dysphagia or swallowing difficulties are caused by an underlying health condition such as:
- Cancer of the mouth or throat
- Conditions that affect the nervous system, these include head injury, stroke, dementia, multiple sclerosis, motor neurone disease
- Gastro-Oesophageal Reflux Disease (GORD)
- Learning difficulties, particularly in children who find learning, understanding and communicating difficult
- Cerebral Palsy
- Muscular conditions such as scleroderma or achalasia
Treatment Of Dysphagia
Treatment of dysphagia will vary depending on the causes and type of dysphagia. If you think you may have symptoms of dysphagia, you should contact your GP and ask for an initial assessment.
There are two types of dysphagia:
- Oropharyngeal or high dysphagia – this is generally as a result of a problem with the mouth or throat
- Oesophageal or low dysphagia – this is generally as a result of a problem with the oesophagus which is the tube that takes food from your mouth to your stomach
Once you have been diagnosed you will be given a treatment plan based on the type of dysphagia you have and the underlying condition.
In some cases, swallowing difficulties will improve as the underlying health condition is cured. In other cases it can deteriorate, as is the case with dementia suffers.
You can find out more about diagnosing dysphagia from the NHS website.
Living With Swallowing Difficulties
Living with swallowing difficulties can be hard and upsetting, whether you have the condition yourself or are caring for someone with the condition.
It is often difficult to know what to eat or what food to prepare if you are unable to swallow properly and this comes with the fear of choking as you try and eat.
Cooking a normal meal and then blending the food is the most common approach, but this is not only unappetising to eat but can carry some risks.
Certain foods don’t blend down well and pose a choking risk, for example, peas, sweetcorn, rice and bread are difficult to blend down. The husks left behind by peas or sweetcorn can pose a choking risk.
There is also the issue of ensuring the right consistency and ensure this stays the same and no crust or skin forms on the blended meal.
Solving The Problem
We recognise the problems people face when they have difficulty swallowing or are looking after someone with the dysphagia.
We have worked hard with our chefs and dietitian to develop a range of meals that are suitable for those with swallowing difficulties no matter whether they are on their journey to recovery or just need help as their condition progresses.
View our Softer Meals range >