World Swallowing Day Date in the current year: December 12, 2024

World Swallowing Day World Swallowing Day is observed annually on December 12. It is a global awareness campaign that was launched in 2011 to raise awareness of swallowing disorders among both healthcare professionals and the general public.

Swallowing is such a basic body function that we rarely give it much thought and often take it for granted, unless we experience problems with swallowing. In reality, it is a complex process that uses different types of muscles (the tongue, which is made up of skeletal muscles, and smooth muscles of the pharynx and esophagus) and is coordinated mostly by the autonomous nervous system. If the process fails and food, drink, or medicine that a person is trying to swallow goes through the trachea instead of the esophagus, there’s a high risk of choking or pulmonary aspiration.

There are several swallowing disorders that can cause significant discomfort and even endanger one’s life. Difficulty in swallowing or inability to swallow is called dysphagia, pain when swallowing is called odynophagia, and the persistent but painless sensation of a lump in the throat is called globus pharyngis. It is possible to have dysphagia without odynophagia, odynophagia without dysphagia, or both together.

Dysphagia is typically a symptom or sign of an underlying condition, although in some contexts it can be classified as a condition in its own right. Its underlying cause can arise from the oropharynx (oropharyngeal dysphagia), the esophagus (esophaegal dysphagia), or neuromuscular disorders. Dysphagia that has no underlying organic cause is called functional dysphagia. Dysphagia is especially common in older adults because Alzheimer’s disease and stroke can affect the autonomous nervous system that coordinates the process of swallowing in the pharynx and esophagus.

Complications of dysphagia may include dehydration, malnutrition and weight loss, aspiration, and pneumonia due to pulmonary aspiration. Treatment strategies vary on a case to case basis and are developed by a multidisciplinary team of healthcare specialists. Depending on a number of factors, management of dysphagia may include medications, swallowing therapy, non-oral feeding (feeding tube), and even surgery.

Odynophagia can be caused by certain health conditions (abscesses, ulcers, upper respiratory tract infections, oral or throat cancer, infection or inflammation of the oral cavity or throat), very cold or very hot food and drinks, trauma or injury to the oral cavity or throat, taking certain medications, drinking alcohol, smoking, or drug use. Unmanaged odynophagia often results in malnutrition and weight loss.

World Swallowing Day was created in 2011 by the Dysphagia Research Society (DRS) with the support of the Japanese Society for Dysphagia Rehabilitation (JSRD). The campaign is promoted by many other stakeholders, including the European Society for Swallowing Disorders (ESSD), Sociedad Latinoamericana de Disfagia (SLAD), and more. Its main goal is to increase knowledge about swallowing and swallowing disorders, including their causes, detection, complications, and management.

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World Swallowing Day, international observances, awareness days, swallowing disorders, dysphagia