Dysphagia is the medical term used for swallowing difficulties and is brought on by strokes and other diseases and injuries to the surrounding nervous systems. It can be quite harmless and easily curable but sometimes the problem can progress rapidly and occasionally can be fatal. Many patients that suffer from dysphagia have trouble swallowing their medication in pill form and find that liquid medicines can alleviate the problem.
Liquid medication is supplied with a special measuring spoon to make sure that the correct dosage is given each time. A recent study found that when the spoon supplied was not used the size of the dose given could vary considerably with the teaspoon used as teaspoons are not standard sizes. If you find it difficult to use the spoon provided ask the pharmacist for a medicine cup or an oral syringe so that the dose can be measured more accurately.
Liquid formulations have to be designed slightly differently to tablets for the patient to get the correct dosage without having to take large volumes of liquid and it has to include something to mask the drug which often is very bitter and bad tasting. Generally the average dosage is kept to 5 millilitres for children though adults will generally have to take a larger dose. The medication is supplied in a syrup formulation a mixture or a solution and contains sweeteners and flavourings to mask the taste of the drug, thicker fluids are often used as they are less likely to be spilled and inhaled by mistake. It may also contain other substances to keep the drug suspended in the liquid and make sure that it works correctly.
It is important that medication is stored correctly and safely and that any instructions regarding dosage and timings are followed carefully and that any old or left over medication is discarded, by taking it to a pharmacy to be disposed of correctly.
The process of swallowing is a complex neurological reflex controlled by the brain. It involves the action of chewing food into a bolus (a small, soft ball of food), followed by the moving of the bolus into the pharynx where several automatic tiny muscle movements work collectively to transfer the food into the oesophagus (food pipe) and down to the stomach. This all occurs while the body simultaneously prevents any food or liquid from entering the wind pipe and lungs. The entire action of swallowing is controlled by many areas of the brain and damage to any of these areas such as with a stroke can cause dysphagia.
Problems swallowing can be caused by many different medical conditions. It is important to discover why the patient has developed the problem in order to formulate an effective treatment plan. The most common cause is stroke Gynectrol dysphagia. Many patients find that liquid medicines and food can help to ease the problem after a stroke. There are exercises that can be done to improve swallowing ability but in persistent cases sometimes a feeding tube may be required.
If dysphagia is so acute that the patient cannot swallow even liquid medication and food stuffs then a temporary or permanent feeding tube may have to be inserted. This is a final measure if alternative treatments are not effective. Before this stage is reached, reducing the size of food mouthfuls, chewing more thoroughly, adding liquid to the food or liquefying food can all help to ease swallowing. Remaining calm can also assist, as many patients become distressed when experiencing difficulty, thus exacerbating the problem.