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I am sorry to hear about the difficulty you are having with swallowing after your dental work. You are on the right path with getting a thorough assessment (CT scan, barium swallow studies, scope). Seeing an ENT and neurologist sounds like a good next step. It is important to understand the cause of the swallowing disorder in order to know the best way to treat it. There are several causes of swallowing disorders including muscle weakness, nerve injury, or abnormal anatomy, among others. Different treatment approaches will be recommended based on the underlying cause. We recommend working with a speech-language pathologist who can interpret the findings of the swallowing assessments and recommend a treatment plan based on this information. If you need assistance contacting a speech-language pathologist, please email us at email@example.com with your location.
-The NFOSD Team
For Jules, in response to your comment above about xray swallows:
Typically, this is performed by a speech therapist or an ENT doctor. Unless your doctor wants to take a look at your esophagus when you’re swallowing, you shouldn’t have to lay down during the test- especially to eat or drink! They usually only do this if there’s a concern that you might have reflux (where things come back up from the stomach).
During a typical xray swallow evaluation (called by many names, Modified Barium Swallow Study, MBSS, Videofluoroscopic Swallow Study, VFSS…), the speech therapist or ENT will ask you to take a sips of liquid (it’s usually white and tastes chalky), a bite of pudding, and a bite of a cracker or cookie. Sometimes they’ll ask you to try different ways to swallow, for example, tucking your chin down to your chest before you start swallowing. While you’re eating and drinking, they take a video x-ray to watch how it goes down.
I recommend asking to watch the recording of your swallow eval with whoever performs it (if they’re not busy, you can probably watch it right afterwards). Sometimes it can be really helpful to see what it looks like from the inside when you’re swallowing.
You ask a great question that I think many Head and Neck Cancer patients and survivors have wondered about as well.
The research on this is a bit inconclusive. One of the most recent research studies we could find was a retrospective series of case studies. The study suggested that 9 out of 10 patients experienced subjective quality of life improvements related to their swallowing function, dry mouth, pain, and fatigue.
In another study, conducted by investigators at Harvard Medical School and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, showed that although there was an improvement to their quality of life, it was not statistically significant compared to a group of participants who had “sham acupuncture.”
If you would like access to these articles, let us know and we can get this information to you.
-The NFOSD Team10.14.2015 at 10:26 am in reply to: How little other people understand what we go through #3580
Hi Rip, Thanks for your efforts in trying to start a support group.
I have a friend who has not been able to eat or drink for about six months. I don’t know if that’s chronic – but to me, it seems like a long time. I can’t imagine facing that challenge for 8 years! I wondered if you had any ideas of good “social activities” that don’t involve eating or drinking. I suggested going to the movies last time we got together, thinking that wouldn’t involve eating or drinking, but the smell of the popcorn was hard for us both to ignore.
Thanks in advance for any ideas you – or anyone else – might have!