Swallowing appears to be a natural process. However, some individuals struggle to digest liquids, food, and saliva. This condition, known as dysphagia, may cause malnutrition, pain, discomfort, and other medical issues.
The act of swallowing isn’t as straightforward as it may appear. It requires coordination and functioning of 50 pairs of muscles and numerous nerves that carry meals from mouths to stomachs. For some, exercise that strengthens the muscles and increases coordination may help overcome dysphagia.
The extent to which physical therapy can assist with dysphagia will depend upon the condition’s cause. The most likely people to suffer from dysphagia are infants born with oral structural issues or palate, as well as older adults.
Dysphagia in older adults can develop due to damaged or weak muscles and nerves. These may be caused by cerebral palsy or Parkinson’s disease. A head injury may also affect the swallowing muscles’ function and the sensation of the throat and mouth.
Cancers of the neck, head, or esophagus and treatments for these conditions may result in dysphagia. Dysphagia is possible in people who have suffered injuries to their neck, head, or chest.
It can also occur in those who have suffered from an infection that resulted in an esophagus that narrowed. Seniors with dementia and the decline in their cognitive abilities are also susceptible. They might benefit from exercises that aid in improving swallowing.
Exercises to aid in swallowing
We can assist you or someone you love to master these exercises consistently.
To increase the capacity to swallow.
Try the shaker by lying on your back and then lifting your head off the floor so you can feel your toes. Maintain your head in a raised position for a few seconds, and then gently lower your head back on the ground. Repeat this exercise 4-5 times, multiple times a day.
Take the supraglottic breath in which you hold your breath as you put an amount of food into your mouth, then take it in. You can cough slowly to open your throat, then exhale. Begin without food until you get into the habit. You can include the food bites.
To increase the strength of swallowing and to improve control
Do the hyoid lifting maneuver while seated at a table, with a few tiny pieces of paper towel before you. Place a straw into your mouth and then suck it to grab the paper pieces, then transfer them to a container placed about a foot away. Begin by moving about 3-5 pieces of paper towels, beginning with and gradually increasing the number until you have 10 pieces or even more.
improve the coordination of swallowing muscles:
Make the swallowing effortful by deliberately contracting all the muscles you employ to swallow as hard as possible. Repeat 10 times this exaggerated swallowing three times a day.