Dysphagia is the medical term used to describe difficulty swallowing.
It can include difficulty starting a swallow (oropharyngeal dysphagia), issues in the throat (pharyngeal dysphagia), and the sensation of food being stuck in the neck or chest (esophageal dysphagia).
Though dysphagia is uncomfortable for patients and leads to a lower quality of life, it can also lead to serious health risks and complications. Dysphagic patients are nearly twice as likely to die while in the hospital, their average stays are 3.8 days longer, and their bills are an average of $6,243 higher. Dysphagic patients are also 33% more likely to need nursing home care.
Dysphagia has shown to be responsible for a sharp decrease in adherence to treatment, as patients delay or even skip doses of prescribed medication. In fact, 69% of older patients report missing or skipping medication doses because of discomfort due to difficulties swallowing.
Dysphagic patients who suffer from chronic heart failure, edema caused by heart or liver failure, and/or hypertension are often prescribed the potassium-sparing diuretic spironolactone, crushed/compounded from tablets into a liquid form.
Unfortunately, liquids derived from crushed/compounded tablets raise concerns about patient safety and efficacy, and they have come under increasing scrutiny from the FDA, which recently released stricter guidance regarding crushing/compounding in general.