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Studies suggest that the manoeuvre strengthens the base of the tongue and forces some muscles in the back of the throat to constrict harder to aid the swallow. Michael Crary and Giselle Carnaby, co-directors of the Swallowing Research Laboratory at the University of Central Florida in Orlando , have developed their own battery of four exercises - a "pharyngocise" routine, as they’ve dubbed it - that has shown early promise in preventing or minimising dysphagia among people having radiation therapy for head and neck cancer.

Will I still be able to pursue my interests? What will happen to my looks? There's plenty to think about. What will happen to my body? When it comes to aging, life can be cruel. What will happen to my mind? Each has a unique combination of chemicals that fight oxidative damage in a distinctive manner. But you need to add more than one. There are thousands of antioxidants; scientists haven't even come close to discovering them all, although they're now testing some of them, including turmeric, as therapeutic agents.

Adding antioxidant-rich foods to your diet is a fine hedge against dementia. And yet, support groups are rare and the relatively small research community has only recently begun to make significant headway in improving the lot of a largely fragmented and voiceless population. One gave her Valium for what he assumed was stress. At her hospital bedside, she says, another concluded: "Sweetheart, I think you’ve just forgotten how to swallow.

" To get her confidence back, the doctor suggested that she get dressed up and go out with her husband to a nice restaurant. For Anderson, who didn’t fall into an obvious high-risk group, the problem was even more basic: her doctors initially told her that what she was experiencing was all in her head. He made similar calculations for his three-day trip to the Dysphagia Research Society conference, where he has become a regular since taking over as president of the National Foundation of Swallowing Disorders in 2012.

Crary says the provocative finding raises the question of whether the dehydration resulted from people eating less of the modified food because they found it unappealing or from some other biological response to the food itself. There’s another twist: Michael Crary and Giselle Carnaby recently discovered that in the week after a stroke, people who were put on a modified diet of thick liquids or pur褤 foods were more likely to become dehydrated than those who remained on a regular diet.

Better-looking food may help ensure that people with dysphagia eat enough to remain nourished and hydrated - especially those who have lost their sense of smell or taste, or all enjoyment from eating. If it’s the former, the research could add new weight to the importance of palatability. On its website, Anderson and others have shared similar stories of spending hours trying to consume enough calories and remain hydrated, of eating alone to avoid embarrassment or concentrate on swallowing without choking, of becoming isolated even from family members.

For many, the sense of loss can be nearly overwhelming, and the aroma of a once-favourite meal can reduce them to tears. "It’s my life and I’m desperately trying to get it back," she says. Her case has also created a ripple effect in Australia. The joy is returning, and she and her husband have dared to consider a work-related relocation to Connecticut. Some of the doctors who initially doubted her condition have since told her they’ve seen other patients with similar symptoms - even another case of shingles-induced dysphagia - and now have a better sense of what to do.

"It allows me to really have a purpose in life," he says. " or depict the outline of a swallow (the bird). In exchange for a donation, attendees can also mix their evening glass of wine with a colourless xanthan gum thickener to get a taste of what a modified diet might be like. Thicker liquids can slow down the process and keep everything moving together. His booth at the Chicago conference features a range of informational pamphlets and T-shirts that exclaim, "Swallow hard!

Steger has sought to transform the foundation into an increasingly visible and growing community of patients and caregivers.

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