Have you ever had a bad cold, or an allergy that caused your nose to be so stuffed up that it became hard to breathe? In those moments, have you considered how nice it is to be able to breathe without effort or concentration?
I imagine that that’s what it’s like for people who have swallowing disorders, or dysphagia. Swallowing is a function you don’t think much about until you can’t do it anymore, and then it becomes a preoccupation that makes you miserable.
To me, one of the most profound things about dysphagia is how it impacts quality of life.
On the blog, we talk a lot about causes for dysphagia (stroke, head and neck cancer, traumatic brain injury, sarcopenia, etc.), and methods to treat it (have you heard of the SwallowSTRONG?) We talk about the serious health complications dysphagia can cause (aspiration pneumonia, malnutrition, etc.)
What we haven’t talked much about what having a swallowing disorder might be like. So with this post, I want to engage your empathy: if you don’t have a swallowing disorder, think about what it would be like if you did. If you are suffering from dysphagia, understand that the goal of this post is to help people to understand how serious it is to not be able to swallow.
Food and drink are such major parts of our social lives as human beings. Nearly every gathering among people, from coffee dates to birthday parties to graduations to religious services involves sharing food or drink with people you love. When you’re unable to swallow, you can’t enjoy any of these functions in the way you did before.
The extra effort and time it takes for each swallow causes embarrassment and stress. You become so preoccupied by your difficulty with swallowing that you can’t enjoy your conversations.
It’s no wonder that swallowing disorders can cause people to withdraw socially. We humans are social animals, and we need social interaction to achieve a high quality of life.
Obviously, we at Swallow Solutions want the best possible health outcomes for our patients. But a real driving force to what we do is improving patient quality of life.
We’re so proud and happy to have helped patients who couldn’t swallow regain the ability to swallow again. It’s our hope that after reading this post, you understand just why that is.