Between 15 and 20 million people in America are estimated to currently have some form of dysphagia, but the number could be much bigger than that. Most of the time, dysphagia is written off as a problem that’s exclusive to seniors, and this is most certainly not the case. Only about 22% of the people who suffer from dysphagia belong to the 50+ age range. Therefore, it is important to realize whether someone has the early symptoms of dysphagia before the situation can deteriorate further, irrespective of the age group that they might belong to.
The Primary Obstacle to Early Detection
Aside from the fact that dysphagia is considered by people to be a geriatric condition, there is another problem which prevents early detection of the condition. Most people find out that they have dysphagia after going through a traumatizing episode where they almost choked or got asphyxiated while eating or drinking.
At that point, the underlying condition responsible for dysphagia will have already become too serious to be controlled effectively. Management is still possible and thanks to food thickening supplements, even patients with severe dysphagia can lead comparatively normal lives. More information regarding food thickeners can be found at Simply Holahan.
Awareness is the Answer: Getting to Know the Signs and Symptoms of Dysphagia
Dysphagia itself can be called a symptom as well because the condition often originates and progresses due to some other medical condition. Nevertheless, if more people became aware of the signs of dysphagia, they could seek appropriate medical advice and find out about management at an early stage. Taking in the opinion of multiple medical experts in the field, several signs and symptoms of dysphagia can be underlined as:
- Odynophagia or painful swallowing
- Complete or partial inability to swallow
- Drooling while awake
- Sore throat, constant moisture or mucous in throat and hoarse voice
- Regurgitation and vomiting
- The physical sensation of food stuck behind the sternum
- Subconscious preference for smaller, solid food
- Frequent occurrence of choking and coughing incidents while drinking water, coffee, tea, etc.
- Inability to breathe properly while eating
- Malnutrition and/or dehydration
- Weight loss or inability to gain weight that would be appropriate for the age in children.
Self-Diagnosis is Not the Answer
If any of the symptoms are observed in an individual, disregarding their age group, they must be checked out by a licensed physician first. Only a doctor can confirm whether someone has dysphagia, and what is the real reason behind the problem. Nevertheless, awareness of the symptoms should enable more people to know if and when it is time to consult their physician for that all important checkup.
It should be noted that dysphagia is not a sign of age, and thus it can affect individuals from any age group. Geriatric issues such as age-related esophageal damage can lead to dysphagia of course, but all seniors do not experience dysphagia by default. There are neurological, neuromuscular, congenital and various other possible origins of dysphagia that only the proper diagnostic tests can reveal.