If you suffered a stroke or a traumatic brain injury, or you have a neurological condition such as Parkinson's disease, then you may have dysphagia. This condition affects the muscles in your throat and typically causes swallowing problems. Dysphagia raises the risk of choking and aspirating food and liquids into your trachea and lungs. If you have dysphagia and are concerned about your swallowing deficits and choking risk, consider hiring a home care services professional to help you manage your condition. Here are some interventions a home care services provider can offer you if you have dysphagia.
Mechanically Altered Foods
Many dysphagia patients are unable to eat food unless it is mechanically altered. This refers to foods that are pureed, chopped, blended, or mashed. Mechanically altered diets help prevent choking because the foods are easier to chew and swallow.
Your home care services provider can use a blender or food processor to alter your foods so that the pieces are smaller and better tolerated. Before altering your foods, the home care services provider can contact your primary care physician to discuss your dietary needs and recommended food consistencies.
In addition to mechanically altering your foods, your caregiver, on the advice of your doctor, can add a special product called a thickener to your liquids. Many people with dysphagia have difficulty swallowing thin liquids such as water, tea, and coffee, but when the thickening agent is added, swallowing liquids is easier. The thickening agent changes the consistency of thin liquids to those with a nectar-like consistency.
Stress Management And Health Monitoring
Dysphagia and the inability to swallow can cause extreme anxiety when you feel like you are choking. Dysphagia can also cause a sensation in your throat called "globus" sensation, which makes one feel like there is a lump in their throat.
Your home care services provider can provide reassurance and intervene with stress management techniques such as playing soothing music, accompanying you on leisurely walks, taking you to visit a friend or family member, and simply offering companionship. In addition, they can monitor your health for signs and symptoms of dysphagia-related aspiration pneumonia such as excessive coughing, chest pain, fever, and shortness of breath. If you experience any of these symptoms or if your anxiety becomes unmanageable, your caregiver can notify your doctor and family.
If you have dysphagia and need assistance to manage your condition, consider the above benefits that a home care services provider can offer. Proper care and support at home will bring you more peace of mind so that you can cope better with your dysphagia.