Dysphagia (swallowing disorder) is a troublesome condition and can cause distress. However, you don't have to suffer too much especially if you have found ways to deal with the condition. Making sure that the people around you understand what you are going through is important. You also need to seek advice of medical professionals. You don't have to go through it all alone.
Your family plays an important role in helping you cope with your swallowing problem. Keeping your condition a secret is not a wise decision because they would know eventually. Your household may be able to help you make your experience with the condition easier. These people are the ones you spend much of your time with, so make sure they know how to help you. For instance, they can help in adjusting the food you eat. Also, make your friends part of your support group.
It is also be beneficial if you have a doctor who you can quickly contact in emergency cases. They can address immediate instances of swallowing difficulty and can make quick decisions whether or not you must be brought to a hospital. They should be quick to contact in case you need to ask for advice about appropriate food and eating habits.
What can a speech therapist do for you? It is surprising, indeed, that someone with swallowing problems would need the help of someone who teaches people how to speak properly. What you poorly understand perhaps is that the muscles you use when eating, drinking, talking, and singing are the same. All the structures in the throat are well coordinated so that food and liquids pass into the oesophagus while air passes into the trachea. Speech therapists can help you strengthen the jaw and throat muscles through various exercises so you could chew food and swallow it better. Also, these instructors may teach you how to breathe properly, especially since you're dealing with swallowing difficulties.
You cannot miss a visit to a dietician because he or she can give you valuable suggestions on foods that are most suitable. Find a dietician with experience in dealing with people with dysphagia. Ask him or her about food fortification because this is a way of making you meet your nutritional needs. You should also ask the dietician about foods to avoid as well as those that are easy to swallow.
Again, you should explain to your family and friends that you cannot swallow the way they do and that there are certain foods that you may not be able to eat. If they know this, then they may be able to help you in a better way. The last thing to do is think that no one can help and just stay in your room away from people. Isolating yourself will not help you ease out your problem. People around you can be of help if they know how to help you and what kind of help you need.
People with a swallowing disorder may find eating at restaurants or dining at a gathering worrisome. Many have faced embarrassment during these situations. Reduce the chances of getting embarrassed by making sure you sit among people who know you have trouble swallowing because they would understand if suddenly you have to cut off your meal. Some patients may not eat during these occasions. If you don't feel like eating then inform the others about your dilemma so they wouldn't think you're being rude. Perhaps, you can choose the foods which are easy to swallow and eat slowly.
Accept the fact that you will most likely be having the problem for a long time, perhaps for the rest of your life, and that this can affect your functioning. But it should not stand in the way of your happiness.