Dysphagia Part 1: What is dysphagia?
If you've ever visited someone at the hospital, you might have observed some patients with tubes hanging out of their noses.
Have you wondered what that tube is for?
That tube is called a nasogastric tube, where "naso" refers to the nose, and "gastric" refers to the stomach. It is a method used to replace the normal way of eating and drinking for patients who have severe difficulty in swallowing. How this works is that a special type of liquid diet is poured into the nasogastric tube, which transports the liquid into the stomach for digestion.
Now then, you may ask, "why would such a drastic form of feeding be recommended?"
This is because many people who suffer from illnesses such as Parkinson's disease, ALS (aka Lou Gehrig's disease), dementia and stroke etc. are unable to eat and drink normally. This difficulty in swallowing is known as dysphagia.
Often with dysphagia, food and water does not travel the normal path- from one's mouth, to throat, and finally to the stomach. This could be due to a variety of reasons such as the weakening of mouth and throat muscles or an ability to coordinate these muscles, amongst others. Thus, instead of travelling into the stomach as they should, food and water gets mis-directed and travels into the lungs. This is dangerous because it can result in a lung infection, which is also known as aspiration pneumonia.
And that's why some patients may choose to bypass the "normal" route, and opt to be fed through a tube instead.
Dysphagia is a devastating disorder that few people are aware of. Thus, in the upcoming weeks, we hope to share some of our knowledge through this blog and teach you how to help someone with this dysphagia. Stay tuned for our next post!
In the meantime, take a peek into the life of someone living with dysphagia by watching this video and leave us a comment/send us an email if there are topics that you'd like to find out more about.
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