Swallowing issues are indeed serious and need to be addressed in the proper way. Otherwise, it might bring some serious health issues and conditions. Different treatment options are available.
Especially, it gets worse because most people with swallowing difficulties also can not swallow medicines. It becomes more difficult when it comes to children. For your child, you can opt for pill swallowing gel for helping kids swallow pills.
You might not know that speed, and language therapists also can help in improving your swallowing difficulties, and here we will talk about that.
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How Speech Therapy Can Solve ‘Swallowing’ Issues
SLTs or speech and language therapists are specifically trained to pick up on subtle cues which might be easily missed.
Suppose a child is struggling with dysphagia. It is obvious the child will start to avoid some particular types of food as they are harder to swallow. And really soon, the list of these avoided foods will become larger.
The child will start to eat only those foods that have a similar texture, like crunchy things which have been made in a particular way. To anyone else, it might seem like just simple ‘fussiness’ to the casual observer.
But when it comes to SLTs, they will spot the deeper behavior pattern, and they might end up diagnosing that the child has avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder or ARFID.
The best part is that they know exactly which assessment tests they are required to use and how to evaluate the assessment. They are also trained to devise a feeding and swallowing plan that will be particularly designed for your child and family’s needs.
On the basis of how bad the dysphagia is, the SLT will come up with an effective plan. However, the professional might work with professionals of different conditions. Here are the elements that are usually included in most treatment plans.
#1 Strengthening The Mouth
You might not know that your child does not have the physical ability to swallow properly. And as a result, they suffer from swallowing difficulties. If this is the case, the SLT will teach your child several exercises in order to strengthen all the parts that actually help in feeding.
These types of exercises involve lips, jaw, tongue, and cheeks. The exercises also can improve the mobility of these parts.
#2 Changing Food And Eating Habits
An experienced SLT will also teach your child several new swallowing patterns in order to prevent food from going down the wrong pipe and eventually getting into the lungs. Changing the feeding posture can be one of them.
Laying sideways, sitting up, dropping or lifting the chin, or rotating the head at different angles are some of the most effective techniques.
Effortful swallow is another technique where the back of the tongue is used consciously to push the food into the throat.
The Masako, where the individual needs to keep the tongue between the teeth while they are swallowing something.
The Mendelsohn is the technique where the individual is required to purposefully keep the larynx raised when they are swallowing the food.
#3 Changing Swallowing Patterns
Here, the key is to ensure that the little one is getting enough nutrients along with water. That is why an SLT adapts the diet of the child so that your little angel can avoid problem foods while getting proper nourishment.
The SLT will experiment with different temperatures, textures, tastes, and portion sizes your child usually prefers and then also experiments with different types of feeding equipment. These typically include sups, bottles, and nipples.
#4 Making Feeding Fun
The SLT will also help you to change how your child usually approaches their meals. Although eating is most;y considered a physical and biological one, in reality, it is more like an emotional and social event.
That is why your child is required to re-learn how they should eat with their friends at school and also with family at home. At home, you can try changing your feeding strategy, such as slowing down the feeding pace, swallowing twice per sip or bute, and alternating eating with drinking.