Coronavirus and Dysphagia
Your body is constantly working to protect you from harmful viruses and infection. With the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, we have become increasingly more cautious about our health and looking after ourselves so that we can support our immune system to help fight these off.
Coronavirus and swallowing difficulties
Coronavirus can affect anyone of any age, however those with underlying health conditions and the elderly are at higher risk of developing serious illness if they caught it. That is why keeping safe and healthy is important to support the immune system during these difficult times. Coronavirus is a highly infectious disease that affects the lungs and airways and can lead to respiratory problems. The most common symptoms include a dry cough, fatigue and fever.
The side effects of this can cause someone’s respiratory system to be compromised, when this happens it can cause difficulties coordinating your swallowing and breathing. Research has shown that Dysphagia is prevalent in patients admitted either to hospital or ICU with COVID-19 related respiratory issues.
Some coronavirus cases can lead to severe breathing difficulties which may require hospitalisation. The use of breathing support while in hospital may result in impaired and weak swallowing as facial muscles are not used as much. Patients who have required breathing support on intensive care as a result of having COVID can be at increased risk of developing dysphagia as long term intubation can cause weakness in the tongue and throat. This can damage the vocal cords, resulting in a weak or ineffective swallow.
Although it is still early days to understand the effects of coronavirus on dysphagia in those living at home and the long-term effects after discharge from care, it is important to eat and drink comfortably and safely if swallowing difficulties present themselves or persist.
If you have been diagnosed with swallowing difficulties, otherwise known as dysphagia, a Speech and Language Therapist will be able to provide guidance on how to manage your this. This might include:
- Sitting up right or use seating support. Head titled slightly forward with chin down when eating and drinking
- Eating slowly and taking small sips and bites
- When feeling breathless, stop and rest
- Eat more manageable food if needed, such as texture modified food. This will be an appropriate texture for that individual recommended by a Speech and Language Therapist.
If you’re experiencing swallowing difficulties and are noticing changes in your symptoms or having different sensations whilst eating or drinking, you should contact a Healthcare Professional and seek advice. Some of the signs and symptoms of these changes could include coughing after eating or drinking, or a painful feeling when swallowing.
When living with dysphagia, it can be difficult to ensure you’re getting the right nutrients to help support your body’s recovery process. A Speech and Language Therapist may advise you to adopt a texture modified diet. A Dietitian may also be involved in this process to keep you informed on how you can support your nutritional intake. This way you can enjoy manageable meals in a texture that’s right for you.
Keeping healthy during Coronavirus
When maintaining a healthy lifestyle, the nutritional content of your overall diet is key. A healthy diet is important in supporting your immune system and the body’s ability to fight off infection. Good nutrition means making sure that you’re getting the right nutrients, such as macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein and fat), and minerals and vitamins to help look after your body. Some benefits of good nutrition include:
- Better equipped immune system to fight off infections
- Improved energy levels
- Improved body strength and lower risk of muscle loss
- Lower chances of hospitalisation
It is these benefits that can help support your immune system during recovery from coronavirus infection.
For some people who may live independently, it may be a challenge to find or create the right food that can provide the nutrients needed to stay healthy. Here we have a guide on ‘How to eat and drink well’ which can provide you with information on eating for health. Or Wiltshire Farm Foods can help with delicious dishes delivered straight to your door.
Other useful resources can include these informative factsheets available from Malnutrition Pathway. Endorsed by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), British Dietetic Association (BDA) and British Association of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (BAPEN) these leaflets are available to support eating and drinking well if you are experiencing or recovering from the effects of COVID-19.
How Softer Foods can help
Our Softer Foods range from Wiltshire Farm Foods can help. Our range is made up of over 85 delicious dishes across three different textures (Level 4 Puréed, Level 5 Minced and Level 6 Soft & Bite-Sized). We have each meal of the day covered from breakfast dishes to indulgent desserts so that you can enjoy good flavours all day. Each of our dishes are made in line with IDDSI guidelines and are tested by our expert chefs and in-house dietitian to ensure they are extra tasty and nutritionally balanced.
So, when you don’t feel like going out to the shops or cooking, you can stay safe at home.
Simply click below to request your FREE brochure below to browse all our delicious meals. You can either order online at wiltshirefarmfoods.com or over the phone by calling 0800 077 3100.
Protecting our customers and our team remains a top priority, therefore our friendly drivers are trained in no-contact deliveries. If you cannot manage to collect your meals from the door and put them away on your own, then the driver will still come in with permission and help put the meals away in the freezer for you. They are required to wear a face covering or visor and maintain social distancing.
Once your meals are loaded into your freezer, when you fancy the easy option for something to eat, simply cook straight from frozen and enjoy.
 ‘Dysphagia presentation and management following COVID-19: an acute care tertiary centre experience’ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7683822/