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How to Cope with Swallowing Problems

How To Cope With Swallowing Problems

Thousands of people in the U.S. have difficulty swallowing. Swallowing is a complicated task that requires your brain to coordinate several different muscles. If your brain is damaged, this will affect your ability to be able to swallow. However, the damage to the brain is not the only reason people have trouble swallowing. There are lots of other reasons why swallowing can become difficult. For example, if your muscles have become weak over time or if you are unable to sit up straight when eating and drinking, you may also have trouble with swallowing. 

The good news is that you can learn to cope with swallowing problems. While this problem may not be comfortable or ideal, there is light at the end of the tunnel. If you are struggling with swallowing, here are some of our top tips to help you cope:

1. Listen to Your Speech and Language Therapist

If you have trouble swallowing food and drink, you will be referred to a speech and language therapist. They will help you to understand your condition and they will also teach you some important exercises that will help to strengthen your throat muscles. As well as this, they will give you some advice on your diet. For example, they may suggest:

  • Thickening your food and drinks – Products like SimplyThick can be added to food and drink to make them easier to swallow. 
  • Change the temperature – cold foods are much easier to swallow than hot foods, so you may be advised to let foods cool down before eating them. 
  • Change when and how you eat – you may be advised to eat smaller meals at regular intervals instead of three larger meals. 

2. Practice Mindful Eating

Another great tip to help you cope with a swallowing problem is to practice mindful eating. This means that you need to focus on what you are doing during meals. Concentrate on chewing and swallowing each mouthful before taking another bite of food. 

3. Keep Water Handy

Lots of people who have trouble swallowing experience coughing fits. Thanks to this, it’s extremely important to have a glass of water nearby. Taking small sips of water when eating can help to prevent or ease a coughing fit.

4. Do Not Panic

One of the worst things you can do when you have difficulty swallowing food and drink is panic. This can cause your throat to tighten up even more and will therefore make swallowing even more difficult. Instead, try and relax before you eat, and keep reminding yourself that it is very unlikely that you will choke, particularly if you are eating the right types of food. 

5. Maintain Good Oral Hygiene

One of the complications associated with swallowing difficulties is pneumonia. However, the good news is that research has shown that good oral hygiene reduces the chance of catching pneumonia. 

As we mentioned above, thousands of people in the U.S. have swallowing problems, otherwise known as dysphagia. Unfortunately, this can be a difficult condition to live with. However, the good news is that there are lots of things you can do to learn to cope with this terrible condition. If you have dysphagia, why not try out some of the tips above? 

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