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  • Swallowing problem solved

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    Old 02-24-2016, 03:16 PM   #1
    vigil101
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    Talking Swallowing problem solved

    I had swallowing problems for years. First I started to have problems swallowing liquids where the liquid would sometimes go down the wrong way and I felt like I was choking (well I was choking). I couldn't swallow confidently and most of the time I felt like I couldn't swallow at all. I would try to let the liquid dribble down my throat so I wouldn't choke during swallowing. I can't even explain how bad this became. My problems progressed to the point where I couldn't swallow food either. I had every hospital test and worked with a gastroenterologist who finally referred me to a "speech therapist" of all things (and I'm so glad he did!) who specialized in working with patients who were recovering from strokes. I'm a 50 year old male and have not had a stroke so I thought this appointment would be a waste of time. First of all she spent a lot of time during my appointment and didn't rush. She explained that lots of people have swallowing issues and for the first time I felt like I was not alone, that other people experienced these issues and were solving their problems and that gave me confidence that I could too. She also showed me a video of one of my hospital swallowing tests which showed my esophagus and I could watch it on her computer monitor as she talked about it. She said it looked more curved to her than normal. In any case, she recommended a series of swallowing exercises to practice my swallowing (which gave me confidence I could do something positive to start to work on my problem) and I realized that my posture was not good from looking at the video and decided myself that I was going to work on my posture and try not to be hunched over at all when I swallowed. She also asked me if I had any tricks I used in order to swallow and she told me to stop using those; that I needed to learn to swallow correctly without tricks or crutches to get the swallow down. I realized that I would often lean over the kitchen sink, for example, when I tried to drink something in case I needed to spit it out when the swallow didn't work. So I stopped doing those types of things and I worked on my posture. This took practice. Finally and most importantly, I had had intermittent upper back pain for a while and I finally put 2 and 2 together myself and realized my swallowing muscles and upper back/neck pain (which was from a herniated disc and I was seeing another doctor for that problem) were in the same general area. I realized both things were muscle related. Weak muscles in my spine and weak swallowing muscles. That was my light bulb moment and I was proud that I had finally put 2 and 2 together. I had never worked out or exercised regularly before. So I joined a gym and hired a personal trainer and decided I was going to fall in love with that gym. I started going 3-6 times per week for at least a half hour each time. After a few months I noticed both my back pain and my swallowing got better and continued to get better and better to the point where I no longer have any back pain at all and (3 years later) my swallowing problem is 90 percent solved. It probably took me a year and a half to get to 50% of normal on my swallowing. Very gradual but I felt any progress was amazing and I was so happy! As my swallowing got better and I realized that I could in fact swallow, I gradually gained confidence in my swallowing ability. But I also realized that, while I had solved the majority of the physical weak muscle problem, my mind was still afraid to swallow so I would many times try to abort the swallow or would choke in the middle of it because I didn't have the confidence in my muscle ability to swallow. I trained myself though to relax and over time my swallowing got better and better. I do actually think about swallowing now, it doesn't feel like second nature sometimes because I remember the past issues I've had. That's why I say I'm 90% cured because I very often do think through a swallow rather than swallow as if I have never experienced any issues. That said, I know I'm cured and it's changed my life so I wanted to put my story up here on these boards in case anyone else can benefit from my experience. I don't need to see any doctors now at all. My gastroenterologist has been amazed at my progress because, even with all of his experience, he had never considered exercise as a solution to my problem. He's also impressed that I never stopped working out 3-5 times a week. The other good news is now I'm addicted to the gym and would miss it a lot if I didn't go. I feel and look great. If you had told me at the beginning that exercise would solve the majority of my swallowing problems and pain I would not have believed you. So I took the long route of self-learning and thankfully found this out for myself to improve my life. I hope you will not hesitate to exercise regularly and I know you will be glad you did. Good luck!

     
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