Dysphagia Home Remedies
Dysphagia is difficulty in chewing and swallowing food resulting in eating difficulties. Dysphagia management involves careful observation of food behaviors of patients. Dietitians, nurses, speech pathologists or occupational therapists are professionals involved in patient feeding. These caregivers who attend to or feed dysphagia patients should take time to observe patient eating habits to identify high risk cases. If dysphagia is not recognized, it could result in malnutrition.
Symptoms of dysphagia of the mouth and pharynx are choking as saliva gets into the lungs, coughing, regurgitate liquid through your nose, breathing in food. These symptoms can appear when dysphagia patients try to swallow. A weak voice and weight loss are also common. Additional symptoms seen in esophageal dysphagia are belching, sore throat, pressure in the chest, chest pain, chronic heart burn, sensation that food is stuck in the throat or chest.
Some dysphagia symptoms arise with behaviors which adversely affect food intake are poor lip closure, delayed swallowing, difficulty in moving the tongue, food pocketing in the mouth, coughing after swallowing and constipation due to insufficient fluid intake.
Any patient displaying dysphagia symptoms should be consulted with an occupational therapist or speech pathologist. They would help to assess swallowing disorders and give food consistency recommendations. There are swallowing specialists trained in swallowing impairments in the mouth (oral dysphagia), pharynx and esophagus.
This condition is commonly seen among hospital patients with head injury, stroke, head and neck cancers, neuromuscular diseases and conditions that cause esophagus to narrow. Children can get dysphagia because of physical malformations in conditions like muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, or GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease). Dysphagia can also be caused if the esophageal muscle does not relax to let food pass through stomach. Other causes of dysphagia can be excess alcohol consumption, smoking, some medications and poor condition of teeth or dentures.
Conventional treatment for dysphagia is with medicines, exercises and even surgery. Dysphagia treatment depends on how serious it is, the cause and complications experienced. Dyphagia patients do not need hospitalization and are usually treated at home. Kids, infants and complicated cases may need hospitalization.
Home Remedies for Dysphagia
Herbal treatments help to strengthen and boost your body’s immune systems. Herbs can be used as dried extracts found in capsules, powders and teas. They may be used as tinctures or alcohol extracts.
For making herbal teas, put 1 teaspoon of herb in 1 cup of hot water covered. Simmer roots for 10-20 minutes and leaves and flowers for 5-10 minutes. Drink 2 to 4 cups per day. These may be used alone or in combinations:
Licorice (DGL or standardized deglycyrrhizinated licorice) extract
Take 250 mgs of DGL 3 times a day, about 1 hour before meals or 2 hours after meals.
This helps to reduce spasms, swelling and gives pain relief from gastrointestinal upsets. DGL is a chemical from licorice known to cause hypertension. People with high blood pressure should avoid taking licorice for a long time. Chewable licorice lozenges are great for treating gastro esophageal reflux disease or GERD.
Slippery elm (Ulmus fulva) tea can be made with 1 teaspoon slippery elm powder added to a cup of water. Drink this 3-4 times a day. Slippery elm is a demulcent which promotes healing and protects inflamed tissues.
Marshmallow (Althaea officinalis) tea can be made by steeping 2-5 grams of dried leaf or 5 grams dried root to 1 cup of boiling water. Strain and cool. Marshmallow tea has anti-inflammatory properties and healing effects. This should be avoided in case of diabetes.
Five Herb Tea
Use 1 teaspoon each of wild yam, valerian, St. john’s wort, skullcap and linden flowers to make tea. Drink this tea three times a day. You could also use the tincture form in which you use equal parts (30-60 drops) of these herbs three times a day.
Diet for Dysphagia
The goal of the dysphagia diet is to modify food consistency of the general diet to enable ease of oral manipulation, reduce risk of aspiration in dysphagia patients on tube feeds and take care to meet the nutritional and fluid requirements in oral feeds.
Other Suggestions for Dysphagia
Exercise: Specific exercises help to position your head in such a way that you can swallow with ease. There are exercises which help stimulate nerves which play a role in helping you swallow.
Drugs: Your doctor may prescribe medications that relax your esophagus and prevent spasms.
Dysphagia should not limit your activities, but your health care provider may restrict your diet.