Dysphagia is a medical term for the symptom of swallowing difficulty. Sufferers are usually aware of their dysphagia and frequently complain of not wanting to eat which can result in weight loss. However, many are unaware of their dysphagia. For example, young children with developmental difficulty may be too young to appreciate the severity of the medical diagnosis.
Dysphagia is a word derived from the Greek dys meaning bad or disordered, and phago meaning "eat". Among the professional treating dysphagia from a functional pyridine, it is classified as oral dysphagia, pharyngeal dysphagia, or both oropharyngeal dysphagia.
Oral dysphagia may be attributed to a dementia patient’s inability to focus for an adequate duration on the act of chewing or mastication, and food may be pocketed in the mouth. This is an example of oral dysphagia due to a decreased oral awareness. Or, a young child may be afflicted with oral dysphagia due to unfortunate illnesses such as cerebral palsy, whereby proper range of motion of oral structures are diminished and a food bolus is simply inadequately managed.
Pharyngeal dysphagia may result from inadequate laryngeal elevation, or incomplete pharyngeal obstruction of the pharynx by a stricture, web or tumor. Pharyngeal dysphagia is frequently linked to the swallow of thin liquids, but could involve solid foods.
Oropharyngeal dysphagia is typically some combination of both.
Finally, esophageal dysphagia arises from the body of the esophagus, lower esophageal sphincter, or cardia of the stomach, and is usually due to mechanical causes or motility problems.
Individuals who suffer from dysphagia are often diagnosed through a bedside swallow evaluation or a modified barium swallow study. If dysphagia is present, the patient is often ordered a modified or least resistive diet, frequently with thickened liquids. Additionally, dysphagia therapy is advised. For example, treatment may include but is not limited to modalities such as the Shaker exercise, isometric neck exercises, and neuromuscular electronic stimulation. Finally, the posting of standard swallow precautions are performed at bedside and family and staff are educated on the patient’s condition and individual plan of care.