How Much Liquid Benadryl Can A Two Year Old Have Do You Have A Swallowing Problem?

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Do You Have A Swallowing Problem?

These days, many people know about the dangers of falls in the elderly. A fall can easily lead to a broken hip or head injury, hospitalization or even death. But people may not realize that swallowing problems are also responsible for tens of thousands of deaths each year in the United States. This brief article will tell you what to look for so you can get proper evaluation and treatment for yourself or a loved one before a swallowing problem becomes life-threatening.

We swallow about 600 times a day. It’s not something we pay much attention to (if at all) because it’s so automatic. But as we age, we can contract disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, congestive heart failure, lung disease or Alzheimer’s disease that interfere with swallowing. It’s not just the elderly who are at risk. Younger people with multiple sclerosis, head trauma or stroke are also vulnerable. Worse still, the drugs used to treat these and other disorders sometimes complicate the picture. For example, antihistamines such as Benadryl (diphenhydramine) can reduce saliva intake and interfere with swallowing at several stages of the process.

Swallowing difficulties (also called “dysphagia”) can lead to death from (1) choking, (2) pneumonia, and (3) malnutrition. By choking we mean a severe blockage of the airways (in the throat or trachea), which the Heimlich maneuver can prevent from becoming fatal. Pneumonia usually results from inhaling (or “aspiration”) bacteria-laden food, liquids, or saliva from the mouth. Malnutrition weakens a person so that they cannot cope with the challenges of infection or recover from cancer and its treatment.

These are questions to ask yourself as they relate to yourself or a loved one who may suggest a swallowing problem:

(1) Does food ever go down the wrong pipe?

(2) Does your voice sometimes sound “gurgly” or wet when eating?

(3) Is eating sometimes less pleasant than before?

(4) Do you sometimes have trouble getting food out of your mouth in one sip?

(5) Do you sometimes feel like food is stuck in your throat?

(6) Have you had repeated pneumonia or other respiratory illnesses?

(7) Have you ever lost weight without trying?

(8) Do you often have trouble swallowing medicine?

(9) Do you often choke or cough when eating solid foods?

(10) Do you often have difficulty swallowing a specific food or liquid?

(11) Do tears come to your eyes when you eat?

(12) Does your nose run after eating?

(13) Do you clear your throat a lot while eating?

(14) Does it take forever to pass a meal?

If you answered “Yes” to one or more of these questions, tell your personal physician or other primary health care provider. You may be referred to a swallowing specialist. It may be a speech therapist. These specialists have been trained in swallowing, which involves many of the same muscles and nerves involved in speech.

Don’t wait to mention your questions and concerns to the doctor. These problems tend to persist and worsen. So act before there is a disaster.

To learn more about swallowing problems (dysphagia), visit the American Dysphagia Network at http://americandysphagianetwork.org and read “Swallow Safely: How Swallowing Problems Threaten the Elderly and Others. A Caregiver’s Guide to Recognition, Treatment, and Prevention”. It is available via http://www.SwallowSafely.com, Amazon.com (including a Kindle edition) and as an iBook.

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