Swallowing, a term originating from the Latin deglutĭo, refers to the actions and consequences of swallowing. This verb mentions the passage of food or other substances through the mouth to reach the stomach.
For example: “Grandpa has swallowing problems”, “Ever since I received that strong blow to the jaw, swallowing has been a struggle for me”, “The mother must be careful to avoid the child swallowing objects ”.
Swallowing can be understood as an action that involves the intervention of various muscles, which act in an integrated manner. The first step is a voluntary act (a food is made to enter the body after having deposited it in the mouth and chewed) and is developed thanks to the action of the tongue, which propels the food and carries it towards the pharynx area.
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Saliva helps the food become the so-called food bolus and can pass through the larynx. Swallowing continues with a series of processes that are already involuntary.
Persistent problems developing normal swallowing are encompassed under the name of dysphagia. It is a complication that can arise from various diseases and disorders.
Dysphagia can present symptoms such as chewing that lasts too long, the involuntary expulsion of saliva, pain when swallowing, regurgitation of food or cough. To accurately diagnose the cause of dysphagia, your doctor often orders a test called an upper gastrointestinal endoscopy or esophagogastroduodenoscopy.
In the case of dysphagia, professionals always try to carry out a treatment that prevents the problem from progressing, that is, making it worse. Once they achieve this goal, they proceed to evaluate the cause of the disorder and look for ways to improve the patient until the symptoms disappear.
It should be noted that designing a treatment for this swallowing problem is not an easy task, especially since the potential causes are many. When diagnosing dysphagia caused by an infection, the use of antibiotics that can be controlled by the doctor is indicated. If it has arisen due to a neurological problem, on the other hand, the resource that usually gives the best results is motor therapy.
To treat esophageal dysphagia, the doctor will probably prescribe a drug that reduces reflux and heartburn. In this way, the condition of the stomach is prevented from interfering with the consumption of food, both solid and liquid. If a case of esophageal stricture or achalasia occurs, manual dilation is most commonly performed. To do this, a special endoscope is used that has a spherical part capable of widening the esophagus as it passes.
In children, as with almost any other health problem, dysphagia presents greater challenges, especially if it occurs before they learn to speak and describe their discomfort accurately. Therefore, it is up to adults to observe them to be aware of any anomaly in their behavior when eating. Some of the most common symptoms are the following, which can also be seen in adults but children do not always complain about them:
* rejection of solid food;
* body tense while trying to eat;
* breathing problems, vomiting and coughing during feeding;
* weight loss.
Although the first three symptoms will surely cause the child to express their discomfort, the last one is the most difficult to detect in time unless the elderly are especially attentive, something that should happen in all cases without exception.