Do you know someone who has been recently diagnosed with dysphagia? If so, it can be daunting for both patients and their caregivers. We’re here to help everyone navigate what life with this condition might look like, and how it can be managed.
What is dysphagia?
Dysphagia is the medical term for “swallowing difficulties”. (1) This refers to a range of different problems which can affect a person's ability to swallow food, water and solid dose medication (tablets and capsules). The condition is sometimes accompanied by a dry mouth or a psychological aversion leading to the patient feeling unable to swallow tablets and capsules. Because dysphagia is often caused by other health conditions, this can lead to complications when patients try to swallow their solid dose medication. (1,2)
Who does dysphagia affect?
As previously mentioned, dysphagia is more common in patients with other health conditions. This can include mouth or oesophageal cancer and conditions of the nervous system like dementia, a stroke or multiple sclerosis. (1) In addition to this, there is a higher prevalence of dysphagia in the elderly due to age-related changes that impact swallowing function, and causative diseases (3). To understand more about the diagnosis of dysphagia, you can learn more on the NHS website.
What are the main symptoms?
There can be many signs of dysphagia. However, the main symptoms of dysphagia consist of (1):
- Coughing or choking when eating or drinking
- Bringing food back up, sometimes through the nose
- Being unable to chew food properly
- A sensation that something is stuck in the throat
- A gurgly voice when eating or drinking
- Recurring chest infections due to food entering the respiratory tract.
If you’re a caregiver, please monitor patients with underlying health conditions, in case they begin to display any of the symptoms above. It’s also worth noting that there can be different degrees of dysphagia, with some patients struggling to swallow and others being unable to swallow at all. (1) For a full list of the signs and symptoms, you can view our article here.
Will dysphagia ever go away?
Most swallowing conditions can be managed, however, this would often depend on more factors, such as other health issues for the patient. The treatment for the condition will depend on the location and cause of your swallowing problem. (4) We’ll talk about this in the next section.
How is dysphagia treated?
To manage dysphagia, some of the treatment options include speech and language therapy to learn new swallowing techniques, changing the consistency of food and liquids, medication (depending on the cause), placement of a feeding tube or having surgery. (4)
As patients with dysphagia may also suffer from other health conditions, they could require medication for treating these. Tablets or capsules can often be difficult for patients with dysphagia to swallow, so they may need an alternative to get the treatment they need (3).
An option to consider is asking your doctor or pharmacist about oral liquid medicines instead of solid dose formats (2).
We’re experts in manufacturing liquid medicines and have been producing them for over 50 years. Our range of medicines are designed to be both palatable and easier to swallow meaning that patients can access the medication they need to treat their condition.
We’re constantly looking for ways to innovate and bring new products to market. If you’re interested in understanding more about what we do here at Rosemont, you can explore our mission, values and history here.
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1. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/swallowing-problems-dysphagia/ | 2. Problems swallowing pills - NHS (www.nhs.uk) | 3. Wright D, Chapman N, Foundling-Miah M et al. Consensus guideline on the medication management of adults with swallowing difficulties. Sept 2015. Guidelines. MGP Ltd. https://www.rosemontpharma.com/sites/default/files/20150911_adult_dysphagia_full_guideline_clean_approved_sept_15.pdf | 4. Dysphagia (swallowing problems) - Treatment - NHS (www.nhs.uk)