Dysphagia Home Exercises

By Joshua McCarron

Dysphagia is a medical term that describes difficulty swallowing, or feeling as though food is stuck in your chest or throat, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Sufferers of dysphagia often feel like they are choking, which may result in a weak voice, coughing while swallowing, or breathing in food while attempting to swallow. Esophageal dysphagia involves food traveling from your esophagus to the stomach and is the most common form. Oropharyngeal dysphagia involves food from the mouth to the upper esophagus. Dysphagia may be treated with drugs, surgery, herbs or special exercises.

Lip Control Exercise

Increasing lip-closing strength will help reduce drooling and food getting stuck in your mouth, which can be factors in dysphagia. Lip control can be improved by performing exercises such as puckering your lips tightly and kissing the air, holding a straw to your mouth and blowing and sucking air through it, closing your mouth and puffing out your cheeks, or smiling. The exercises do not have to be performed in a rotation.

Tongue Strength Exercise

Improving the strength of your tongue will help keep food where it is supposed to be when it is inside your mouth. Tongue strength can be increased by performing exercises such as sticking your tongue out as far as you can, reaching the tip of your tongue to your nose, stretching it down toward your chin, and pressing it against the inside of each cheek.

The Interdental Swallow

Interdental swallowing helps you gain control over your throat and swallowing mechanism. Hold the tip of your tongue and swallow to perform this exercise.

Exercise for Laryngeal Elevation

Since the problem of dysphagia has a lot to do with control over swallowing, exercising all areas of the mouth and throat is beneficial. To perform laryngeal elevation, vocalize the 'E' sound, starting on the low end of the scale and working up. When you reach the highest note, hold for five seconds. Use your fingers to feel how your larynx raises up.

The Supraglottic Swallow Exercise

The supraglottic swallow helps you by reducing vocal chord closure. Simply breathe in deeply, hold your breath, swallow while your breath is being held, cough, and swallow again. Repeat the sequence as many times as you like.

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