Swallowing Problems from the Outside Looking In: Friendly Perspective from a Regular Person

Since joining the team here at Language Fundamentals, just 2 short months ago I think I have heard the words “dysphagia” and “swallowing therapy” more than I have in the last 20 years!Every time I hear those words, I subconsciously revisit some challenges that I faced earlier in my life. I recall vividly the first time I had food “stuck in my throat” back in 1993, and every time since then.  Thankfully on each occasion I could still breathe, however the panic and uncertainty that set in was alarming. Eventually the issue resolved itself and I was able to breathe a big sigh of relief.  Nonetheless, I remember each and every time this has happened during my adult life and every time something similar happened to a family member.While an esophageal dilation procedure can be highly effective it is not a lot of fun, unless you enjoy tasting spray paint as it hits the back of your throat before drifting off to sleep.  I’ve had this procedure 3 times, with the most recent being in 2011, and knock on wood, things have been good ever since.Each time I hear the word dysphagia and I think of a senior citizens living in SNFs, I feel for them and am grateful for Speech Language Pathologists, Dieticians, Nurses, and Physicians who want to help improve the quality of life of these folks during their golden years.  With the risk of aspiration and aspiration pneumonia being so real, receiving timely & professional medical care is critical.For those younger folks, or middle aged guys like me, hopefully you can benefit from the following tidbits.  Remember, I am not a clinician, just a guy with some life experience.

  1. Be mindful of the effects of acid reflux. Some foods produce more acid than others, which has a way of creeping up the esophagus and causing all kinds of irritation.  Control the acid reflux through your diet, and life will be easier.
  2. Take your medicine. It helps!  Just be certain to take it at the physician recommended dose.
  3. Be mindful of family history. Doesn’t that apply to just about everything?
  4. Do what you can to strengthen the muscles in your neck & throat. Just like PTs and OTs help us to strengthening the muscles in our body, SLPs help their patients to strengthen as well.

When we reach the ripe old age of 40, a bell goes off in our heads that says, “It’s time to take care of ourselves.”  Can you relate?  It can be done!  Feel free to contact us if you want to share your experience or have any questions.