June is National Dysphagia Awareness Month, and we at Swallow Solutions are hoping to raise awareness for this serious medical condition. Let’s start off with some facts about dysphagia. How many of these did you know?
1) Dysphagia, or difficulty swallowing, affects more than 15 million Americans.
2) Stroke, neurodegenerative disorders, and head and neck cancers are common causes of dysphagia.
3) Dysphagia can occur for a number of reasons, and is common in people with weak lingual musculature. Muscles in your head and neck enable you to swallow regular foods and liquids.
4) Dysphagia can lead to life threatening health complications, such as dehydration, malnutrition, aspiration pneumonia (when food or liquid ‘goes down the wrong pipe,’ and gets to the lungs) and/or airway obstruction.
5) Modified diets (thickened liquids or pureed solids) are commonly recommended for people with dysphagia.
6) Dysphagia can also result in reduced quality of life. Just think of how many social events are centered around eating and drinking! Now imagine not being able to participate fully in those events with friends and family.
7) Dysphagia can cause people to feel socially isolated and withdrawn.
8) Clinical evidence supports strengthening lingual musculature (something that can be accomplished using the SwallowSTRONG device) to increase swallowing ability. Therapy for dysphagia is often divided into two “camps:” Compensatory (diet modification) or Rehabilitative (lingual strengthening). Both can be used together!
9) Therapy for dysphagia is often divided into two “camps:” Compensatory (diet modification) or Rehabilitative (lingual strengthening). Both can be used together!
10) Compensatory strategies are often used early on in therapy, and can be eliminated as a dysphagia patient gets stronger and swallows more safely.