Swallowing is a complex process that people who swallow without difficulty often take for granted. We have all experienced the pleasure of eating. From the aromas of our favorite foods as they are being cooked to their flavor once they are ready to eat, the act of eating may be for some among the true pleasures in life. Imagine not being able to taste or smell your food (which may have happened to you if you have had a cold). Often our appetite shrinks when we cannot taste or smell our food. Some people with swallowing problems experience difficulty with tasting/smelling their food. Because of this, they may even lose the motivation to eat as it is no longer enjoyable.
Apart from the pleasure of eating, eating also serves a very important purpose. As the body expends energy, we replenish our bodies by nourishing it. That is, food allows us to nourish (or feed) the body. Anyone who has ever become weak, dizzy, or light-headed because they delayed eating understands this quite well. You were however probably lucky enough to regain your energy when you were able to eat enough. Some people with swallowing problems already have less energy because they are sick (for other reasons); because they are sick they need to eat in order to build up energy to help them fight the sickness. If they do not have enough energy to chew or swallow a whole meal this would then affect their ability to nourish the body enough to start on the road to getting better. Consider how much energy (and extra time) it may have taken you to chew one small piece of over-cooked meat or a hard piece of bread/roll. Individuals who are sick and have swallowing problems may not have enough energy to completely chew just one mouthful of meat or bread; that would mean they are unable to nourish themselves enough to begin getting better. This situation therefore becomes a vicious circle.
The basis for eating and nourishing the body is the act of swallowing.
These web pages have been constructed to provide individuals and their family members with some basic information regarding swallowing problems (often called dysphagia) and their treatment. Use the links to the left to navigate the Swallowing (dysphagia) section.