Down the Rabbit Hole: 6 Natural Treatments for Swallowing Disorder

Imagine sitting down to a lovely meal and having trouble swallowing the soup and beverages served with it. At each try, you choke or cough. The act of eating could become a nightmare. When it is so hard to eat or drink necessary food, people can lose interest in eating and become malnourished and dehydrated. They can even contract aspirational pneumonia. But, there are six natural treatments to make swallowing easier and more natural.

What Causes Swallowing Problems?

Dysphagia is the difficulty in swallowing. This condition is caused by health conditions such as stroke, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, Myasthenia gravis, missing teeth, medications used to cause sedation, Cerebral palsy, ALS, traumatic brain injury, dementia, cancer, and some neurological conditions.

People who have physiologic or anatomical problems with the mouth pharynx, esophagus, and larynx can suffer from dysphagia. The esophagus loses its definition and lets liquid through too quickly, causing coughing or choking. Food or liquid can enter the windpipe causing a danger of aspirational pneumonia.

Symptoms of Dysphagia

People suffering from dysphagia have symptoms including painful swallowing, drooling, heartburn, regurgitation, feeling of food stuck in the throat, coughing, choking, and gagging when trying to swallow. There can also be stomach acid in the throat.

Medical Treatments for Dysphagia

The medical treatments that can be used for this condition include Medications, surgery, tube feeding, and esophageal dilation. The treatment depends on the cause and severity of this condition.

6 Natural Treatments for Dysphasia

There are also six natural treatments for improving people’s swallowing:

  1. Thickened liquids such as SimplyThick Nectar can make swallowing easier by slowing down the movement of liquids. The newer gum-based thickeners taste better, have a smoother texture, and are easier to mix into foods and liquids. The most successful uses of thickeners are those mixed at the correct consistency.
  2. Postural adjustments are short term treatments involving changes in the body and head posture. These posture changes are learned and help to reduce aspiration. A speech therapist works with a patient for these posture changes.
  3. Swallow maneuvers help with some physiologic swallowing conditions. A speech pathologist will work with the person to choose the swallowing technique that works best.
  4. Diet choices can make a big difference. Choose foods with safer textures. Chop or puree solid foods. Eat smaller meals more often. Choose food to provide a safe but balanced diet to meet the patient ’s nutritional needs.
  5. Acupuncture has been tried, and more research is being done. This treatment is most effective with stroke patients.
  6. There are exercises for the tongue, jaw, and lips called oral-motor exercises that might help. These range-of-motion exercises can help with structural or tissue damage. Resistance exercises make muscles stronger.

Additional Treatments to Help patients Cope with Swallowing Difficulties

There are lesser-known treatments for dysphagia that include exercises, changes in eating habits, and natural chemicals.

Exercises that involve the tongue, jaw, and lips and are overseen by a speech therapist. They may be like simulating the chewing motion. Moving lips inward and then out in a kissing motion and moving the tongue from side to side.

Changes in eating habits can involve eating more, smaller meals, and chewing foods thoroughly. Avoid sticky foods, fresh fruit, raw vegetables, doughnuts, and white bread. Then, when eating, change how you swallow. Use food thickeners with a gum base to make liquids easier to swallow. It is possible to get help in overcoming swallowing difficulties and once more enjoying meals.