Swallowing Exercises for Dysphagia

Most of us consider swallowing to be an action that is reflexive and does not take a lot of effort. However, swallowing food or liquid is quite a coordinated and complicated action involving various different nerves and muscles.

Because of this, neurological and other conditions that affect the muscles and nerves can result in dysphagia, a condition that is characterized by difficulties swallowing.

Swallowing Exercises for Dysphagia

There are various therapies and exercises that might help if you are struggling with this condition. 

Supraglottic Swallow

This exercise is one that should first be tried without food. As you practice and get better at it, you can try it while there is food in your mouth or liquid that has been made easier to swallow using SimplyThick thickener gel.

To do the exercise, first, take a deep breath and then hold your breath as you swallow. Finally, cough to clear any food or saliva residue that might have gone down past the vocal cords. 

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Effortful Swallow

The reason for doing this exercise is to improve the coordination and contact between the different muscles that your body uses when you are swallowing. The exercise basically involves swallowing.

However, when you swallow, the main aim is to try and squeeze all the muscles you are using to swallow as hard as you can.

You do not need to swallow any food while doing the exercises. You can strengthen your esophagus muscles by performing this exercise five to ten times, three times each day. 

Mendelsohn Maneuver

This is a simple yet very effective exercise that you can try when it comes to improving your swallowing reflex, and it simply involves swallowing your own saliva.

Typically, when you swallow the saliva and it reaches the area of your throat right behind your mouth, your Adam’s apple, which is a hard area located halfway down the front of your neck, will move up and down.

This exercise involves trying to keep your Adam’s apple in the upward position for around 2-5 seconds when you swallow. You can use your fingers at first to hold it in place and help you get used to the movement.

Repeat several times a day to improve your ability to control your swallowing muscles without using your hands. 

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Shaker Exercise

Another simple exercise, the shaker exercise can help to strengthen the right muscles to improve your ability to swallow. To perform the exercise, start by lying flat on your back and raising your head as if you were trying to look at your toes.

Keep your shoulders down when you do this. To get the best results, you should perform this exercise around 3 to 6 times per day for at least six weeks. Gradually increase the amount of time you spend on each head lift and add more repetitions as you get better at it. 

Dysphagia can have several neurological causes. If you or somebody that you know is suffering from dysphagia from a neurological cause, these swallowing exercises can help to strengthen your muscles, improve your ability to swallow, and prevent aspiration. 

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