Swallowing Problems After Surgery

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Some degree of difficulty swallowing is common after some types of major surgeries. Surgeries where an endotracheal tube is used may leave the patient with complications speaking and routine swallowing. The device is inserted into the patient's trachea to ensure that the airway is not obstructed. Its function is to manage airways and for medical ventilation for routine anesthesia, intensive care and emergency medicine.

Surgery will require recovery time.
Surgery will require recovery time. (Image: ?????????? ?????/iStock/Getty Images)

Types

Laryngectomy, emergency cardiac arrest situations where the use of ventilation with a mask is either impossible or ineffective, various spinal surgeries and several heart surgeries are all different types of surgeries that can result in acquiring swallowing complications due to the use of an ET tube that is necessary in order to perform almost all major surgeries.

3D illustration of larynx.
3D illustration of larynx. (Image: janulla/iStock/Getty Images)

Effects

The effects of not being able to swallow can prevent the patient from receiving the proper nutrition that is needed to recuperate after a prolonged surgery. In some cases where patients are unable to swallow, they are put on an all liquid diet where a thickening agent is used to ensure that they will not be able to choke on the otherwise thinner liquids, or in more serious situations they’re put on a feeding tube.

Liquids will be necessary in the beginning of recovery.
Liquids will be necessary in the beginning of recovery. (Image: iplan/a.collectionRF/amana images/Getty Images)

Considerations

When having a major surgery that is targeted toward your throat, neck, some neurological procedures or ones that are prolonged procedure and need the use of an ET tube be aware of the difference between auto response complications, and complications resulting from intubation. The two vary greatly and some post-operative complications are temporary whereas ones that stem from surgeries that affect your auto response system, can be more severe.

Surgery for the throat or neck take time to recover.
Surgery for the throat or neck take time to recover. (Image: dolgachov/iStock/Getty Images)

Identification

A few of the obvious symptoms of swallowing problems after surgeries can be inaudible speech, hoarseness, muscle spasms, difficulty swallowing and some food obstructions. Damages to the voice box are not necessarily greater with a longer duration of the surgical procedure, however if you experience several long operations, the odds of injury are likely to be more significant. If there is a history of a chronic throat disorder or previous surgical procedures that might have contributing factors, seeking the advice appropriate professional or a specialist is strongly advised.

Consult your doctor with concerns.
Consult your doctor with concerns. (Image: Thomas Northcut/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

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