Because swallowing is difficult, and in many instances painful too, it can be common to see patients lose their appetite. This is especially true of those who are bedridden and therefore get very little physical activity. If the patient can’t feed themselves and doesn’t want to eat it can be quite the challenge getting them to take on food. The recovery process is going to be that much longer if they don’t take on the much needed sustenance to keep their strength up in order to try and get back to better health.
One of the best ways in which to combat the problem of a difficulty or reluctance to eat, is to feed the patient with pureed, minced or finely ground foods. Sometimes carers may buy ready prepared pureed food, much like baby food, although it is fairly straightforward to simply prepare your own using regular ingredients and a food processor. Whilst most meals can be reduced down into a puree, care must be taken to only mix together complementary ingredients. For example, emptying a whole plate of meat and vegetables into a blender might seem a simple way to serve up a standard meal but the contrasting flavours and textures can end up with a very unappetising and odd tasting brown mush. A far better technique is to puree ingredients separately, unless they complement one another. For example, you could easily blend carrots and rutabaga together to make a healthy orange mash, then separately grind some chicken or beef in a mincer.
Besides food, dysphagia also presents a problem when it comes to administering medicine and it can be common to see stroke victims struggle with tablets and capsules. One method to combat this is to try and administer tablets within yogurt or a thick sauce, to help it slip down the throat. Stoke victims may not have the coordination to suspend the pill in the fast moving water so the pill can be swallowed.
An alternative to trying to take medicines hidden in thick liquids has been developed by medical associations and pharmaceutical companies who have come up with a range of liquid medicines to take the place of various medicines which would normally be prescribed in tablet form. Where in the past sufferers of dysphagia might have crushed up pills, which is dangerous and seriously inadvisable, there is now a greater availability of traditional medicines in a safe syrup format that mean there is no need to worry about administering the medication you or your patient needs. However, the number of medicines available in this format is still limited and it can be frustrating for sufferers to learn that their particular medicine doesn’t have a liquid alternative.
There have been cases of patients remaining on feeding tubes indefinitely after having suffered a stroke and even in the most optimistic of cases it can take years of specialist therapy in order to return to a more normal routine of being able to swallow. However, there are cases of patients overcoming dysphagia and in such instances pureed food and liquid medicines can be seen as an interim solution to aid stroke victims on their road to recovery, giving hope to the sufferers that it doesn’t have to always be this way.
Jeff Nevil is a freelance writer with an interest in the healthcare sector. He writes for a variety of online publications on the topics that matter to him including business advice, technology and pharmaceuticals. You can read more on his personal blog at http://technoperative.blogspot.com.uk