ARTICLES / General /
Social Aspects of Dysphagia /
By Jennifer Bradley, Staff Writer
On average, a person swallows 600 times a
day. Every swallow requires four stages, 25
different muscles and five nerves. Drinking
water or eating is something most people take
for granted, while others struggle with these
basic abilities on a daily basis.
Swallowing disorders (dysphagia) can be caused by
a variety of issues including medical, neurological,
structural, or complications with medication.
Because of this, each loved one has individual
needs and concerns, especially when in social
Embarrassment from loss of control or gazing
onlookers may cause a loved one to become unwilling
to be in a public venue, or even at a family
gathering. As a caregiver, itís important to keep
instilling a sense of self and independence for a
loved one, yet help them deal with swallowing
concerns as they arise.
Quality of Life
Thereís no denying that eating is a social
activity. Changes to a personís ability to eat will
surely have a large impact on the enjoyment of
dining with others. Dysphagia can cause poor
nutrition, dehydration, risk of aspiration and
- coughing during or right after eating or
- wet or gurgling sounding voice during or
after eating or drinking;
- extra effort or time needed to chew or
- food or liquid leaking from or getting stuck
in the mouth;
- recurring pneumonia or chest congestion
after eating; and
- weight loss or dehydration from not being
able to eat enough.
Anxiety about these symptoms becoming noticeable
causes a loved one to worry and have fears of
swallowing, especially in social settings.
Quality of life is something a caregiver can
maintain for a loved one by understanding, changing
positioning, making proper food choices and helping
with safe swallowing strategies as well as diet
Foods which are stringy, floppy, or coarse
and those that require a controlled movement are
hard for someone with dysphagia to consume. Some
examples include bacon, lettuce, peanuts, raw foods
and peanut butter.