Gobble-up issues go along with a stroke, especially right after it occurs!
You are not alone if you had some questions about eating and drinking after your stroke. Many stroke patients have dysphagia. That means they have difficulty swallowing. Most have some form of this problem in the early phase after their stroke. Most will “grow out” of this hurdle. A few patients find that their issues with swallowing become permanent.
When I had the strokes, the doctors were concerned if I could eat and drink properly. After the second major stroke hit me, it was clear that I was handling my spit just fine. I could sip water and other drinks too.
Then the doctors experimented with me by eating pureed food. They had the chicken breast, broccoli, and baked potato put into a blender to make it almost liquid. Yummy! Since it was going to be all one food when it get into my stomach, the doctors decided to pass by the solid foods. After about a week I was able to swallow properly again. Whew…I was so happy. It is amazing how I am grateful for the simple activities.
When people have dysphagia, some may be completely unable to swallow or may have trouble safely swallowing saliva, liquids, or foods. When this happens, it is a challenge to consume enough fluids and calories. This is a serious medical condition and it is beyond this post.
When we swallow, some 50 pairs of muscles work. There are three stages to ingesting. We receive food or drink into the mouth. Then we chew it. Finally, we move it from the mouth to the stomach. That’s it.
Let look at the details. First, during the oral phase, the tongue collects the food or liquid, making it ready for swallowing.
The second stage is called the pharyngeal phase. It triggers a swallowing reflex that passes the food through the pharynx, or throat. During this phase, the larynx or the voice box closes tightly, and breathing stops to prevent food or liquid from entering the airway and lungs.
The final point is called the esophageal phase and the food or liquid enters the esophagus or the tube from the mouth to the stomach. The food and drink usually take about three seconds to pass into the stomach. It is the three parts of swallowing.
It is a fascinating procedure when we look at each part! It is one of the thousands of processes our body normally completes each day. You and I have learned how the stroke disrupts many of these activities. But we never give up!
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