Swallowing

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Swallowing is a complex event involving many muscles and joints. When injury or illness disrupts this process, rehabilitation can help. Dr. Edward Hill discusses this in todays 60 Second Housecall.

Dr. Hill:

The normal swallow is a complex event where many muscles coordinate to move food and liquids safely and efficiently from the mouth to the stomach. When a disruption in swallowing occurs, food or liquid may bypass its normal course and enter the windpipe and lungs.

Food or liquid consistently entering the lungs can lead to a serious condition called aspiration pneumonia. Difficulty swallowing, known as dysphagia, may be caused by stroke, traumatic brain injury, degenerative neurological diseases such as Parkinsons and Lou Gehrigs disease and head and neck cancers.

People have more difficulty swallowing thin liquids than solids. For some people, putting their chin down to their chest will help. For others, turning their head to one side may eliminate or minimize the problem. In more severe cases, a person may need to have food and liquid modified as well as use compensatory strategies for safe swallowing.

A speech-language pathologist can evaluate and treat dysphagia.

For North Mississippi Medical Center, Im Dr. Edward Hill.