Caregiver in Great Falls VA
Has your elderly loved one ever had trouble swallowing? If so, they could have dysphagia. Dysphagia occurs when the esophagus and throat are not working properly, making it difficult for food and drinks to go down and into the stomach. This can be a scary experience for both the elders with this condition and their caregivers.
Fortunately, by understanding what causes dysphagia and how it can be treated, your loved one may be able to rid their swallowing problems once and for all.
If the elder is having trouble getting food and liquids down the esophagus, the following causes could be the culprit.
- Previous stroke or spinal cord or brain injury
- Issues with the immune system that causes it to become swollen and weak
- The muscles in the esophagus randomly tighten, also known as esophageal spasm
- The tissues of the esophagus become narrow and hard, also known as scleroderma
- A health condition that can cause a blockage in the throat, such as GERD or an infection
- Allergic reaction to food
- Diverticula, or small sacs in the walls of the esophagus or throat
- Cancerous or benign tumors in the esophagus
- Masses that are located outside of the esophagus, like tumors, lymph nodes, or bone spurs
- Dry mouth
If you witness any of the following symptoms in your parent, they most likely have dysphagia.
- Coughing, choking, or gagging when attempting to swallow food
- Trouble getting food or liquids down the throat the first time
- Frequently feel as though food or liquids are stuck in the throat or chest
- Unusual weight loss as a result of not getting enough food or liquids
- Pain when swallowing
- Heartburn or pain or pressure in the chest
Once the elder gets an official diagnosis from their doctor, here are some things they may recommend to treat their condition.
- Change your diet. The doctor may want your loved one to eat or avoid certain foods.
- Exercise. The goal is to strengthen various muscles needed for swallowing.
- Endoscopy. A long, thin scope may be needed to find and remove any item that could be blocking the elder’s throat.
- Surgery. In some severe cases, the doctor may want to perform surgery on the elder to remove the blockage.
- Medication. If the elder has dysphagia as a result of their heartburn, GERD, or esophagitis, medication may be prescribed to manage the symptoms of these conditions.
Dysphagia is a terrifying condition and one that will make the elder feel as if they are choking. Help them overcome this condition by talking to their doctor as soon as you can.
If you or an aging loved one are considering caregiver services in Great Falls, VA, please call the friendly staff at Philia Care today at 202-607-2525.