Dysphagia — difficulty swallowing — can turn an enjoyable meal or evening into a painful situation. Though it does not always lead to choking, it can take an object several hours to pass through the esophagus in a patient with dysphagia. There are some medications that can help with the problem, but here are a few home remedies that can help as soon as an object is stuck and a few that will help condition the throat to improve in the future. These statements have not been evaluated by a doctor, so always make sure to consult a physician before attempting treatment with home remedies.
When Something Is Stuck
The first remedy is one that Rocky Balboa might enjoy, and that is swallowing an uncooked egg yolk and white. The texture of the egg binds to the problematic food or pill and removes the obstruction. A lump of boiled rice can help if something like a fish bone is trapped in the esophagus. It can add more weight to the bone and push it downwards. Swallowing bread can accomplish the same thing. Gargling vinegar is also a good solution when the obstruction is a large item. It can even help to soften hard bone and make it easier to swallow. Try starting with the vinegar method and then follow it up with the rice or egg. Root of clematis is an herb that can be heated and mixed with vinegar and brown sugar to remove obstructions and relieve irritation as well. The Heimlich maneuver can also be used to expel food particles trapped in airways.
Helping the Throat
Several herbs have been known to help the throat during episodes with dysphagia. Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) can reduce swelling and spasms and relieve pain in the gastrointestinal tract. The typical dose is 380 mg per day. Slippery elm (Ulmus fulva) is a demulcent, which means that it promotes the healing of and protects irritated tissues. The dose is 60 mg per day. Marshmallow (Althea officianalis) is also a demulcent and an emollient (a soothing substance) and can be made in a tea with 2 to 5 g of dried leaf or root in 1 cup of boiling water. Other herbs that may be helpful are valerian (Valeriana officianalis), wild yam (Dioscorea vilosca), St. John's wort (Hypericum performatum), skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora) and linden flowers (Tilia cordata).
Here are a few homeopathic remedies that may also help. Baptesia tincotria is used if a patient has a red, inflamed and pain-free throat that can only swallow liquids. Baryta carbonica is used if the tonsils are enlarged. Carbo vegetabilis is connected to dysphagia that is accompanied by bloating and indigestion that is worse when lying down. Ignatia should be taken when there is a feeling of a lump in the throat, back spasms, coughs and after experiencing grief. Lachesis can be used when the patient does not like being touched around the throat, which includes clothing that is tight at the neck. Make sure to consult a licensed homeopathic doctor before choosing a remedy and dosing.
Bryan Cohen has been a writer since 2001 and is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a double degree in English and dramatic art. His writing has appeared on various online publications including his personal website Build Creative Writing Ideas.