Dysphagia in the elderly

When you are looking to begin caring for a loved one who has a diagnosis of dysphagia, it is highly likely that you still have some questions.

Dysphagia in the elderly is usually caused by complications relating to neurodegenerative issues, such as a stroke, and can even be a symptom of a disorder such as multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s.

But there are many causes, which can make spotting it difficult, so if you have any concerns, always seek the advice of medical staff.

If you simply want to know a bit more about dysphagia, read on for answers to the most common questions that are searched online.

What Causes It?

As stated before, there are many causes of dysphagia, such as the aftereffects of a stroke, Parkinson’s, MS, head injury, or even dementia. 

The cause itself may be varied; for instance, if someone has dysphagia following a stroke, the issue is going to be related to neurological functioning. But, irrespective of the cause, to prevent the person who has dysphagia from losing weight, they will need to be given liquid thickeners, such as the options sold by the SimplyThick Company.

Can It Be Cured?

Sometimes, the ailment of dysphagia may reverse itself, and after a few weeks of having it, a person may notice a reduction in the symptoms, or they may reverse completely. 

But, for those who are likely to have it longer term; no, dysphagia cannot be cured, but it can be managed. This will be based on the cause, the severity, and the adjustments that can be realistically managed.

What Lifestyle Adjustments Need To Be Made?

This will depend on how long the ailment is predicted to go on for, as well as how severe it is.

For short-term mild dysphagia caused by a stroke, it may be something as simple as a change in diet to incorporate more liquids and wet foods. In more complicated cases, it may be wise to have a feeding tube installed, either via the nose or through the skin near the stomach. Both of these will help food to reach the stomach and will prevent weight loss. In cases of dysphagia related to cancers or obstructions, surgery will be required to reduce the symptoms.

Can It Be Dangerous?

Yes, it can.

One of the core diagnostic tools relating to dysphagia is difficulty with swallowing liquids. This means that someone who has dysphagia will not be able to swallow a mouthful of water or other fluids by themselves. If left for too long, they will become dehydrated and with the inability to eat food, they will also lose weight rapidly. 

So, if you suspect that someone you know has dysphagia, aim to have them assessed by a doctor as soon as possible.

Is Surgery Required To Reverse It?

As mentioned before, surgery can play a role in the management of dysphagia, but this is only going to work if it is linked to abnormal growth or another blockage in the throat. Surgery may also be required to widen areas in the esophagus that have become thinner.

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