Normal effects of the aging process, such as deterioration in salivary gland function or decreased reflexive opening of the upper esophageal sphincter, can be contributing factors to dysphagia, as can stroke or dementia.
They gag more frequently and typically outgrow it after their 4th birthday, as their oral functions mature. They begin to breathe through their nose and swallow instead of breathing and suctioning. Adults prone to gagging may have difficulty swallowing.
Dysphagia in older patients is often mild for long periods of time. “This is due to age-related changes in laryngeal and pharyngeal sensation as well as very mild discoordination between oral and pharyngeal phases of swallowing that allows the food to safely pass the vocal cords on the way to the stomach,” Ivey says.
Dysphagia, which is a geriatric syndrome affecting 10% to 33% of older adults, is commonly seen in older adults who have experienced a stroke or neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer or Parkinson disease.
Changes from Normal Aging Many changes to swallow function come with healthy aging and do not result in dysphagia. Of course, elderly people experience dysphagia – the prevalence in community-dwelling elderly appears to be 15%.
Some people have an overly sensitive gag reflex that can be triggered by things such as anxiety, postnasal drip, or acid reflux. Swallowing pills, oral sex, or a trip to the dentist’s office can also be troublesome for those with an overactive gag reflex.
Other signs of dysphagia include:
Dysphagia is a poor prognostic sign in patients nearing the end of life, and for many patients with a life-limiting illness, the inability to swallow may represent a pivotal symptom that prompts the decision to consider end-of-life or hospice care.
It is important to avoid other foods, including:
Drug classes that may contribute to difficulty swallowing include neuroleptics, chemotherapy agents, antihypertensives, tricyclic antidepressants, anticholinergics, antihistamines, antiparkinsonian agents, and other drugs that impair saliva production.
For oropharyngeal dysphagia, doctors will likely recommend a combination of exercises (designed to help re-coordinate muscles used during swallowing) and speech therapy. Esophageal dysphagia may be more involved. If there is a stricture, a doctor may need to dilate the esophagus in order to expand its width.
They include soft, cooked, or mashed fruits or vegetables, soft or ground meats moist with gravy, cottage cheese, peanut butter, and soft scrambled eggs. You should avoid crackers, nuts, and other dry foods.
Dysphagia ( swallowing difficulty ) is a growing health concern in our aging population. Age-related changes in swallowing physiology as well as age-related diseases are predisposing factors for dysphagia in the elderly. In the US, dysphagia affects 300,000–600,000 persons yearly.
Diltiazem: Can aid in esophageal contractions and motility, especially in the disorder known as the nutcracker esophagus. Cystine-depleting therapy with cysteamine: Treatment of choice for patients with dysphagia due to pretransplantation or posttransplantation cystinosis.
Causes of dysphagia Dysphagia can be caused by neurological conditions such as stroke, progressive conditions (such as Parkinson’s disease and dementia), obstructive conditions (such as oesophageal stricture), and muscular causes (such as achalasia and sarcopenia).
An esophageal stricture is an abnormal narrowing of the esophagus, a tube-like structure that connects your throat to the stomach. This condition is fairly common and can occur at any age, although it’s most common after age 40.