Lifestyle Changes For People With Dysphagia

May 5, 2022

Lifestyle Changes For People With Dysphagia

Lifestyle changes for people with dysphagia may not always be easy to adjust to, but making a few simple lifestyle changes with this condition can help people live a happier and healthier life. Dysphagia is the medical term for difficulties with swallowing food or liquid. It can be the result of many different factors, but is often caused by an illness, disability, or injury. Difficulty swallowing can lead to a range of complications including malnutrition, dehydration, and in severe cases, it could lead to death. 

Dietary Changes

Changes to the diet are one of the first lifestyle changes for people with dysphagia to make. It may be worth speaking to a nutritionist or dietician who is experienced with treating people with dysphagia and can put together a dysphagia diet that is designed to suit the individual’s lifestyle and needs. This diet involves eating foods that are easy to swallow and digest, or using products like SimplyThick thickener gel. It may involve eating pureed vegetables and fruits, foods with gravy or sauces, soft cereals like oatmeal, or solid soft foods like pasta, rice, or eggs.

Staying Active

It can be difficult for people who have a swallowing disorder to remain active since they may not have much energy due to struggling to eat or drink anything. It may be worth working with a professional who can help you come up with a plan for getting more physically active that takes this condition into account. For example, exercising could involve shorter walks throughout the day that will not cause you to get tired quickly and will not lead to sweating and water loss that might dehydrate you further if you struggle to drink water. 

Nutritional Supplements

Taking nutritional supplements might be essential for some people with dysphagia since they may struggle to get the nutrients that they need from a regular diet. Nutritional powders containing vitamins and other supplements like zinc or magnesium may be added to foods like smoothies or soups that are easier to swallow, to increase the nutritional value and avoid deficiencies. Protein shakes can be a particularly good food option to consider with dysphagia as they will provide energy and a ‘full’ feeling without being difficult to swallow or digest. 

Therapy And Exercises

Depending on the cause of the dysphagia, somebody with this condition may need to make lifestyle changes that involve undergoing specialist therapies or performing exercise to strengthen their esophageal muscles and make it easier for them to swallow. Swallowing exercises to strengthen the muscles of the throat tend to mainly be recommended for people who have dysphagia due to a neurological condition such as dementia, stroke, or multiple sclerosis. There are several different options to try but most will involve some kind of swallowing or neck movement exercise that helps to build and strengthen the muscles that we use to swallow food and liquid. 

Dysphagia is usually brought on by an illness, injury, or disability. With this condition, lifestyle changes are often essential for management and to ensure that the patient remains healthy and well. 

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Andi Perullo de Ledesma

I am Andi Perullo de Ledesma, a Chinese Medicine Doctor and Travel Photojournalist in Charlotte, NC. I am also wife to Lucas and mother to Joaquín. Follow us as we explore life and the world one beautiful adventure at a time.

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