It takes no more than 3 seconds for you to eat a handful of chips before poking again into the bowl for another helping but your grandpa seems to find it difficult to push down a single one despite the fact that he loves to eat them! While his heart reaches out to the bowl his swallowing ability prevents him from eating them rapidly. Ageing brings about a reduction in muscle mass, function, speed and efficiency in every adult who reaches this phase of life. Have you ever noticed elderly people preferring to eat soft foods such as porridge or soap to pastas or pizzas? They have reached a point where their only wish is to live comfortably every day for the rest of their lives causing themselves and others no trouble, ensuring their good health as much as possible and trying to accomplish as many things as possible by themselves. Swallowing difficulty is a side effect of many medical conditions such as stroke, conditions that affect the nervous system or surgeries involving the neck and throat. Swallowing difficulties can be a sign of ageing too and almost all individuals experience varying proportions of it above the age of 80.
Its no surprise that people start losing teeth with ageing (in fact, youngsters these days go for root canal treatment and removal of decayed tooth) and these missing teeth might make swallowing a difficult affair. But a new study has come up with a strong association between swallowing difficulty and loss of muscle and function in the throat.
The study included 31 adults aged between 62 and 91 years who had no swallowing problems and 33 healthy young adults aged between 18 and 28. Both the groups underwent an X-ray video test that elaborated the swallowing procedure. This video showed for how long the wind pipe was in a closed state during swallowing, how long it took to close the airway and how food was prevented from entering the lungs. The video showed that the process of swallowing was delayed in older adults meaning the food got into the throat later and it also took extra time for the subsequent actions to start and prevent food from entering into the windpipe. This shows that older adults are at an all-time risk of getting their food stuck in the lungs that can also lead them to death (a condition called as aspiration pneumonia).
Almost 15% of the elderly population experience dysphagia (swallowing difficulties) and this can land the person with malnutrition, dehydration and pneumonia. In short, it has debilitating effects on the health and quality of life of individuals.
Exercise for the Throat?
We exercise for every part of the body right from our arms, legs and belly to neck and face. Why don’t we try doing a few exercises for our throat muscles too?
Its in our hands to prevent a small problem from blowing out into a full-fledged one by ensuring a few things. Take good care of your teeth and ensure tiptop oral hygiene. Get handy tips on maintaining oral hygiene at www.firsteatright.com. Take in small bites of food and chew them well to ensure that they get into the food pipe (esophagus).
Ageing brings about various changes to our body:
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