I have always been in pretty good health, so I was surprised one day when my doctor told me my blood pressure was a bit high. She told me to begin watching my salt intake, start exercising, and to try to relax. Well, I intended to follow her advice when I left her office, but the next day I was back to my same habits. I kept using the salt shaker and didn't begin an exercise routine like I had planned. When I went for my next check-up, she told me that my blood pressure was even higher and approaching a dangerous level. I had to begin a blood pressure medication to manage it. I wanted to create a blog to share my story and remind people to listen to their doctors' advice. If a few lifestyle changes can improve your health, then you should make them.
If you suffer from dysphagia, or difficulty swallowing, you may figure there is not a lot you can do about this symptom. You may believe that it may simply a part of your health condition—whether that be MS, a previous stroke, or something else entirely—and is just something you have to live with. However, while you may never get back to the point of swallowing freely and without any difficulty, there are ways to improve your swallowing and make it more comfortable. In particular, you should consider seeing a physical therapist who may guide you through one or more of the following protocols for managing dysphagia.
This exercise is meant to strengthen the muscles in the front of your neck, which are some of the more superficial muscles you use to swallow. Your physical therapist will have you lie on your back, and then lift your head off the ground. You will hold your head off the ground for a few seconds, or as long as is comfortable. Then, you will lower your head back to the ground. Doing several sets of neck lifts will improve your control over your swallowing.
This exercise is not as hard or as painful as it sounds. All you need to do is swallow with nothing in your mouth. As you do so, focus on clenching the muscles in your neck and swallowing as strongly as possible. Swallow several times in a row. You may feel your muscles fatigue as you continue to swallow but this is the point. As you work them out to the point of feeling tired, you slowly strengthen them, which can make swallowing easier.
The Cough Swallow
This exercise is particularly useful for patients who are worried about inhaling food and beverages as they swallow. Your physical therapist can guide you through it in steps. First, you take a deep breath and hold it in. Then, you put food in your mouth and cough. This clears any remnant of saliva out of your airway, and it also tightens and activates your swallowing muscles. Finally, you swallow. It should feel more secure and less like you are at risk of inhaling something. Practice this cough-swallow daily, and your swallowing will improve.
If you suffer from dysphagia, no matter what the cause may be, work with a physical therapist to pursue relief. Contact a physical therapist for more information.Share
1 December 2020