The term dysphagia refers to all kinds of swallowing problems. Swallowing problems range from minor disturbances all the way to complete inability to swallow. The problems can be temporary on a short time scale, can last for a considerable period of time or may be permanent.
Difficulties with swallowing can be a symptom or a consequence of disease, or may arise as a consequence of treatments. Swallowing problems are as widely varied as the underlying causes. Some swallowing problems are not immediately obvious, some have very clear symptoms.
Depending on the severity and duration of swallowing problems, a number of additional health issues can arise. It is therefore important to assess any swallowing problems.
Even those with rather serious difficulties with swallowing can often safely eat and/or drink by adjusting the food offered to suitable textures and temperatures as well as avoiding some unsuitable foods altogether. Sometimes special tricks and postures can help with swallowing. In a few particularly serious circumstances oral food intake may be impossible, either temporarily or permanently, and alternative ways of feeding will then be needed.
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