The physical reflex of swallowing is something that many people take for granted throughout their lives. Not much attention is paid to it until a problem manifests. Swallowing problems usually occur in the elderly, people who have had a stroke, or in people suffering from chronic neurological disease such as Parkinson’s Disease or Multiple Sclerosis. However, sometimes a person who is otherwise healthy may develop difficulties swallowing due to a variety of different causes. For example, persistent reflux can yield difficulties swallowing.
Swallowing involves two basic issues:
- Protection of the airway
- Transportation of the food
When one eats food and it “goes down the wrong way”, this is an example of one’s airway not being protected properly. In addition to protecting the airway is the ultimate goal of having the food or liquid end up where it belongs – the stomach.