Meaning of Bolus


It is known as a food bolus to the element that is formed from the grinding of food by the action of the teeth and saliva. The food bolus, therefore, is the result of chewing and insalivation.

When the substances present in the food are degraded and the bolus is formed, the food is prepared for its swallowing and later digestion. The development of the food bolus, in this way, is essential for feeding.

The step prior to the formation of the food bolus is the introduction of a food in the mouth. When the person begins to chew and add saliva, the food bolus is formed in his mouth. Once the bolus is prepared, the subject takes it towards the palate with the help of the tongue, and finally pushes it towards the pharynx for swallowing.

After these voluntary actions, various reflexes begin to develop. The contraction of the esophagus walls causes the bolus to descend into the stomach. Different mechanisms, on the other hand, allow the bolus not to pass into the airways.

In the stomach, gastric juices are responsible for continuing the breakdown of the bolus, which, several hours later, turns into chyme (a kind of paste). The chyme is pushed into the pylorus, then enters the small intestine and later the large intestine. When the absorption of the nutrients from the chyme has already taken place, the waste is transformed into feces and remains in the rectum until evacuation.

Although it may not seem like it at first glance, the swallowing process is highly complex, since there must be an infallible coordination between the groups of muscles involved in it, located in the esophagus, larynx, pharynx and mouth.

With regard to the movement of the food bolus within the body, we can distinguish between a voluntary movement (when we carry it from the mouth to the pharynx) and several involuntary ones, which we carry out from that moment throughout the swallowing process. All this can begin both as a result of a stimulation of the receptors of the tongue, the uvula, the soft palate, the larynx and the pharynx, as well as by decision of the central nervous system.

Having said all this, there is the possibility of suffering from swallowing disorders, and one of the most important symptoms is dysphagia, that is, the difficulty to start the process or, something even more common, the sensation that the food bolus is stuck and does not continue to descend from the neck region. Before any of these signs it is necessary to consult a doctor to carry out the relevant tests.

Faced with an alleged case of dysphagia, the health professional must ask a series of very specific questions to the patient, to avoid a misdiagnosis. For example, a misinterpretation of symptoms can miss the presence of a pharyngeal balloon, a disorder that also creates the sensation of a blockage in the throat, which can sometimes be a malignant tumor. To rule out this problem, one of the questions should be whether the sensation of obstruction in the throat disappears once the patient is able to swallow food.

Although there is not much epidemiological data in this context, it is estimated that dysphagia is prevalent between 3 and 9 percent in subjects over 50 years of age. Depending on the phases of the swallowing process that it affects, it is possible to distinguish between esophageal and oropharyngeal dysphagia; Since both its causes and its consequences are different, it is essential to rule out one of the two before starting treatment.