Dysphagia: Guidelines to prevent food from getting stuck

Dysphagia is a disorder, not a disease, characterized by a difficulty in transporting the food bolus from the mouth to the stomach. This problem can be complicated if the food enters the respiratory tract, then, by reflex action, we cough to free the area.

Coughing while eating is not normal, nor is swallowing with difficulty. In many cases, it is a consequence of cerebrovascular accidents, Alzheimer, Parkinson or tracheotomies, ailments that produce affections in the tongue, the muscles of the throat and the esophagus. I consider that dysphagia is underdiagnosed, because it should be treated by a speech therapist.

Treatment: guidelines to prevent food from getting stuck

Regarding its treatment, it is necessary to follow a series of guidelines to prevent food from getting stuck: exercises to strengthen the jaw muscles, sit upright, and let three hours pass after dinner before going to sleep, eat food in small pieces and accompanying them with plenty of liquid and spend considerable time at meals to chew and swallow slowly.

People who suffer from this problem, live an odyssey and sitting at the table to eat is no longer a pleasure, the vast majority of them have to eat things crushed. So to solve this situation, we must go to the speech therapist, make food more attractive and prepare succulent recipes that avoid unnecessary risks that can damage health when eating food.

The first thing to take into account in order to eat well is posture. All people with swallowing problems or dysphagia should eat sitting at 90 degrees with their feet flat on the floor and with a short back or leaning forward and preferably with the neck down. This will protect the airway.

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After eating, it is also advisable to sit up for a while to prevent the food from going backwards and into the airway. It is also essential to avoid distractions during the meal, in order to concentrate on swallowing. Be aware of the process.

Taking adequate time to eat and chewing food well has more benefits than we think:

  • It promotes digestion

It is essential to chew slowly and mash food well to get all the benefits of the digestive process. In the chewing and salivation phase, the body prepares for digestion, signals are sent to the brain to activate the taste receptors and start secreting digestive enzymes. In turn, the contractile activity of the small intestine is stimulated, which helps to mix the food bolus with digestive enzymes and bile, brings the digested nutrients into contact with the intestinal mucosa for absorption and sends the discarded material to the large intestine.

  • Makes us feel more satiated

The feeling of satiety is a brain response. Approximately 20 minutes after starting to eat, the brain secretes hormones that indicate that we are satiated.

If we eat too quickly, this signal arrives late, when we have already eaten more than we really need.

  • Prevents obesity

Studies confirm that people who eat food slowly have a 42% lower risk of being obese than those who eat fast. Eating faster takes longer to feel the sensation of satiety, so you tend to eat more than you should. Eating slowly each bite gives us the right feeling of satiety, so we also tend to snack less between meals and that favors diets, fewer calories.

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Improving digestion allows us to keep the metabolism active, so there is a better ability to eliminate fats and toxins.

  • Take care of your oral health

The salivation produced by chewing and crushing food well prevents food from sticking to the teeth, thus preventing the formation of bacterial plaque and cavities. In addition, chewing a lot exercises the gums, helps keep the jaw and teeth strong.

  • Relaxes and improves mood

Eating slowly and chewing well makes eating a pleasure, we enjoy the flavors more, our breathing is more harmonious, we increase the oxygenation of the organism, we are more relaxed and our mood improves.