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Swallowing: A boon or bane for you!

3 min read

Dr Amulya P Rao

One of the great pleasures in life is EATING. It is the energy root to humans. In Hindu Mythology food is considered to be God.“Annam Bramha Rasa Vishnu Pakto Devo Maheshwara, Evam jnaktva tu yo bhunkte, anna dosho na lipyate”

It means, ‘The creative energy in the food is Bramha. The nourishing energy in the food is Vishnu. The transformation of food into pure consciousness is Shiva. If you know this, then any impurities in the food you eat will become part of you’.

Hence, it is always said that we need to relish what we are eating for it to convert as a positive energy both psychologically as well as physically. Do we really do it every time?

Now, give a thought on how we eat. Eating being a routine work, fails to get attention. Now, just take a bite of a biscuit or a chocolate or any other food item and feel what happens once the food enters your mouth. Did you try that? The food enters the mouth, we chew the food nicely, then swallow it. Once we swallow, it enters the food pipe and propagates down to enter the stomach and then intestine where it gets digested.

At times we might face difficulty chewing hard food or we might end up in a gag while swallowing or if the food enters the wrong pipe, that is air pipe instead of food pipe then it results in cough or choke. You must have experienced all these, but rarely.

If these difficulties are observed all the time then it is termed as dysphagia [dis-FAY-juh] (Swallowing disorder). Swallowing disorder is just a symptom that accompanies several neurological disorders like cleft lip and palate, cerebral palsy in children, Parkinson’s disease in adults, adults with a history of stroke/s and many more. Swallowing disorders if not treated at an earlier stage can be fatal. 

If your child or any family member has the following symptoms, then immediate medical and rehabilitative support are mandatory:

  • Extra effort or time required to chew or swallow
  • Food or liquid leaking from the mouth
  • Avoid eating certain food or having to cut food into smaller pieces because of trouble in swallowing
  • Food getting stuck in the mouth or throat
  • Bringing food back-up (regurgitation)
  • Unexpected weight loss
  • Frequent heartburn
  • Coughing or gagging during or immediately after food intake
  • Gurgle voice after the intake of food
  • Pain while swallowing (odynophagia)
  • Hard time breathing after meals

A team of medical and rehabilitative professionals are involved in dealing with swallowing disorders.

Swallow therapist (Speech-Language Pathologist), gasteroenterologist, neurologists, dentists, nutritionist, ENT specialist, occupational therapist, physical therapist, pulmonologist, radiologists, and patient with family members.

The rehabilitative professionals involved in assessing swallowing disorders and rehabilitating it by improving the swallow are Speech-Language Pathologists (Swallow therapists). 

So, the Executive Council of Indian Speech-Language and Hearing Association (ISHA) suggests to avail medical as well as rehabilitative support.

In India, there are only a few speech and hearing institutions, hospitals or private clinics assessing and rehabilitating individuals with swallowing disorders as this field is still in its budding stage.

So, as a part of the team, it becomes important for each one of us to know the symptoms of swallowing disorders and the team involved in assessing and rehabilitating swallow disorders to seek early intervention.

Share this knowledge about swallowing disorders, which is new unlike the previous articles that you have read to your dear and near ones and help self and others in having a safe swallow!

Suggested Readings:

Audiologist and/or Speech-Language pathologist (https://www.mysoorunews.com/whom-to-consult-if-you-have-speech-voice-or-hearing -related-issues-read-expert-suggestions/)

Track the developmental milestones of your baby (https://www.mysoorunews.com/every-parent-must-know-this/) and (https://www.mysoorunews.com/know-your-child-thebest/)

Child Neglect: An Overlooked Disaster (https://www.mysoorunews.com/child-neglect-an-overlooked-disaster/)

Vocal Hygiene (https://www.mysoorunews.com/lary-the-voice-box-my-friend-how-to-take-care-of-it/) (https://youtu.be/GGOLm6N_Yd4

Newborn Screening for communication disorders (https://www.mysoorunews.com/newborn-screening-for-communication-disorders-a-must/)

( The author is Research Associate, Indian Speech-Language and Hearing Association, ISHA)

– Team Mysoorunews





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