simple fix for Dysphagia: 'difficulty swallowing.'

glassquiltSeptember 25, 2007

DH has trouble swallowing - he chokes on water. He's coughed so hard he can't talk for half a day.

Some time ago he had a 'swallow test' for want of a better term. He sat in front of a machine and swallowed stuff while a doctor watched x-rays or something. She told him that he needs to swallow harder, with more force. That some liquid just ends up sitting on the back of his tongue and then slips down the wrong pipe. (Not the medical explanation but close enough.) This doctor suggested that DH have physical therapy and relearn to swallow. That went over like a lead ballon.

Today DH had his regular visit with Dr C, Pulmonology. She's the one who diagnosed his sleep apnea. How's he sleeping? How's his shortness of breath? Somehow his choking on water came up. Seems it's common as one ages to choke on thin liquid like water. But thicker liquid, like a nectar, is no problem. She came up with a simple solution. An OTC product called Thick-It. It's a powder you stir into water or any liquid that changes the consistency of the drink - makes it thicker and easier to swallow. We got some at Walgreens, DH tried it and it works. DH says there's no taste. He's only tried it in water so far.

If you know anyone who has this problem, check it out. What a relief.

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Glass  that is very, very interesting. It is something I did not know. IÂm so glad you found something that helps.


    Bookmark   September 26, 2007 at 6:13PM
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My sister does and I thought she was exaggerating or just plain crazy, or both LOL.
I showed this to her and she is going to try it.
Thanks Rosa

    Bookmark   September 29, 2007 at 3:14PM
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I think I get a new DR! Thick-It has been around a long time! Working in the nursing profession I have used it several times..........and it is not common as one ages to choke on thin liquid like water unless there is a medical reason behind it such as a stroke as example!

    Bookmark   September 30, 2007 at 10:02AM
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Here is information:

Here is a link that might be useful: link

    Bookmark   September 30, 2007 at 10:13AM
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Oh. That's what the doctor said.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2007 at 10:47AM
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Just a warning!!! If you have difficulty swallowing or it seems to 'get stuck' going down, this is one of the warning signs of esophageal cancer....ask me how I know. This is one of the most deadly cancers along with pancreatic and liver cancer. It is usually diagnosed very late - we are lucky Rusty was diagnosed as early as he was (nagging wife).


    Bookmark   October 1, 2007 at 10:15PM
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Actually, Red, it IS common for older folks to develop dysphagia due to advanced age. As a speech-lanuguage pathologist who works in a nursing home treating folks with dysphagia, I have a fair amount of experience with that. Swallowing is a series of muscular contractions, and when people get weaker and have general debilitation, ALL muscle groups can be affected, including those involved with swallowing.

Thickened liquids work for many folks, but there are several strategies that can be used alternatively. If anyone develops dysphagia, your best bet is to get in touch with an SLP for assessment and treatment options.


    Bookmark   October 27, 2007 at 2:51PM
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I just checked that link, and there was an error. It says that dysphagia only concerns the oropharyngeal or esophageal stages, not the oral stage.

There is a classification of oral dysphagia. It is characterized by difficulty chewing, manipulating the food in the mouth to form a proper bolus (the "ball" of food that we actually swallow), and residue remaining in the mouth after swallowing. Oral dysphagia is dangerous because it can lead to choking, decreased oral hygiene, and risk for infection.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2007 at 1:21AM
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Perhaps this will explain it a little better! I have also have a Nursing Background and have worked with the eldery
Dysphagia is NOT common unless there are underlying problems
and I have worked with several SP!

Here is a link that might be useful: Link

    Bookmark   November 1, 2007 at 5:13PM
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I never questioned that you had encountered dysphagia in your nursing career or that you have worked with the elderly. However, dysphagia is rarely even a primary aspect of care for nurses in general, as opposed to the primary focus of SLPs in adult settings (vs. school SLPs).

My intent was not to argue with you about this, but provide a different perspective. As I am an SLP that deals SOLEY with elderly folks (and Glass's DH is 85, if I remember correctly) with 90% of my caseload being people with dysphagia, I believe I am MORE than qualified to make my statements above. I'm sorry if you disagree with them - that's your opinion.

I don't appreciate being talked down to or like I know nothing about it. Just because you've seen people with dysphagia and used Thick-It does NOT qualify you as an expert.


    Bookmark   November 13, 2007 at 10:07PM
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no one is talking you down and I am sorry you took it that way and I am not expert OR SLP but I do have experience far more then just giving Thick-It and we both have our own opinions................I am sure you have a heavy caseload of elderly clients with many medical problems with dysphagia that need your services.............

    Bookmark   November 14, 2007 at 1:35AM
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Thank you Red. I appreciate that.

As an aside, but to continue this thread, have you (or Glass) seen the Simply Thick stuff? It's a gel rather than the powdered products. I've not worked anywhere that uses it, but I have tried it at convention fairs. It's really good - no taste, no grainyness, etc. Check the link.

Here is a link that might be useful: Simply Thick gel thickener website

    Bookmark   November 14, 2007 at 7:42PM
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Older ppl DO have a lot of issues with swallowing I too am a nurse, I've worked with the elderly for 14 years and I have a lot of difficulty swallowing and have for years Iam only 34 years old. I go for a scope next week and hope it isn't anything serious and can be fixed.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2011 at 1:52AM
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