Fibromyalgia can affect swallowing. Swallowing is important to maintain good nutrition. It also helps with digestion. If you have fibromyalgia, you may be more likely to experience symptoms of dysphagia, which is a condition that affects swallowing. This includes chest pain, hoarseness, and difficulty swallowing.
According to the American Dysphagia Association, up to 80 percent of people with swallowing disorders have chronic pain from a previous injury to the chest. This pain can affect the ability to swallow, and make it difficult to eat.
Symptoms of dysphagia include:
- Chest pain
- Difficulty swallowing
- Chest tightness
- Trouble breathing
- Pain while swallowing
People with fibromyalgia may also have trouble breathing because of the chronic pain.
Treatment options for swallowing disorders
It is possible to treat swallowing problems caused by chronic pain. Your doctor may recommend:
- Medications that relax the muscles in the throat
You may be able to use over-the-counter medications to relax the muscles in your throat. Antispasmodics, like:
- Valproic acid
Some medications may be used to treat chronic pain, but they may not actually be working for swallowing disorders.
Massage can help improve the ability to swallow. This can be done through:
- Deep tissue massage
- Ear massage
Your doctor may also recommend a combination of these techniques.
Ear massage is especially helpful. You can do this by putting your ear against your partner’s. This can help improve the ability to swallow.
Deep tissue massage is a type of massage that focuses on your muscles in your chest and neck. This can help relax the muscles in your throat. It can also help relieve pain and discomfort.
Your doctor may also recommend an occupational therapist. They can teach you the techniques to improve your ability to swallow.
A dysphagia exercise is a type of exercise that can help relieve pain. It will change your body mechanics to improve your ability to swallow. Your doctor can recommend a dysphagia exercise or a combination of exercises.
These exercises can be done at home. If you’re having trouble swallowing, you can find online exercises that can help.
Some exercises include:
- Holding a straw in your mouth
- Sucking on a straw
- Sucking on your partner’s finger
- Holding a slippery object like a popsicle stick
- Holding your tongue to your cheek
- Trying to chew something
- Eating solid foods
Your doctor may also recommend a physical therapist. They can teach you how to improve your swallowing.
What are the complications of swallowing disorders?
Swallowing disorders can have a serious impact on your daily life if they are left untreated. You may be unable to eat or drink properly. This can lead to malnutrition. This is especially true if you’re unable to drink enough.
In addition, you may have difficulty breathing because of the pain from your pain.
Other complications of swallowing disorders include:
- Lung infections
- Esophagitis, which is inflammation of the esophagus
- Gastroesophageal reflux
- Stricture, which is when the esophagus narrows and cannot relax
- Esophageal cancer
- Narrowing of the esophagus
Living with swallowing disorders
If you have swallowing disorders, you may be able to live a fulfilling life. You can find ways to improve your ability to swallow. You can also try to find support from friends and family.
You may find it helpful to:
- Learn to chew solid foods
- Eat soft foods
- Have a straw to help you swallow
- Drink a lot of water
- Avoid alcohol
- Avoid smoking
- Try acupuncture or massage
You can also try to improve your diet. You can get more fiber by eating:
- Whole grains
- Leafy vegetables
Your diet may also be improved by a low-fat diet. This can help reduce your risk of:
- Weight gain
- Heart disease
If your symptoms are persistent, you may want to see a doctor. They may refer you to a specialist. They may recommend:
- A speech therapist
- A physical therapist
- A therapist
- A psychologist
- A dietitian
- An occupational therapist
- A dentist
- A respiratory therapist
- A dietician
Take your medications as prescribed and follow your doctor’s instructions. If you have trouble swallowing, you may need to see a doctor. They may prescribe a sedative or a drug to help relax the throat and help you swallow.
If you have a swallowing disorder, you may be able to live a fulfilling, comfortable life. It can take time to work through these problems. It’s important to find a doctor and a therapist who are willing to work with you.
Your doctor will be able to help you figure out the best treatment for your swallowing problems.
Take the first step
If you have a swallowing disorder, you’re not alone. Talk to your doctor about your symptoms. Be open and honest with them. Ask about treatment options.
You can talk to someone you trust. You can even find a support group online. You can ask your doctor about this and other resources so you can find support.
If you have swallowing problems and you’re having trouble breathing, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room right away.
What’s the outlook for swallowing disorders?
A swallowing disorder can be the result of a number of things. It may be caused by:
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Certain medications
If your swallowing problems are persistent, they may lead to complications. They may also lead to malnutrition and other health issues. This usually happens after a long period of untreated swallowing problems.
You may want to contact your doctor and ask about treatment options. Your doctor can refer you to a speech therapist or physical therapist. They can also refer you to a dietitian and occupational therapist.
Swallowing problems can be caused by a range of health conditions. Your doctor can help determine what’s causing your symptoms.
If you’re having swallowing problems, you may be able to treat them with over-the-counter medications. You can also use swallowing exercises.
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