Swallowing Difficulties (Dysphagia)
Dysphagia is a medical term that describes swallowing difficulties. These difficulties can occur at any point from putting the food or drink in our mouth to it reaching the stomach.
Some people with dysphagia have problems swallowing certain foods or liquids, while others can’t swallow at all. Significant problems in swallowing can cause weight loss and chest infections.
What can cause a swallowing problem?
Swallowing is a complicated process that requires precise control and coordination of the muscles and structures. A breakdown at any point in the process can result is dysphagia.
Swallowing difficulties can be as a result of:
- Neurological conditions e.g. stroke, multiple sclerosis, head injury, dementia
- Obstructive conditions e.g. head and neck cancers
- Other causes e.g. ageing, COPD, learning disability, sarcopenia
What does a swallowing problem look like?
Swallowing difficulties can present in different ways in different people. Some of the most common difficulties people experiences are:
- coughing or choking when eating or drinking
- bringing food back up, sometimes through the nose
- a sensation that food is stuck in your throat or chest
- being unable to chew food properly
- a ‘gurgly’ wet sounding voice when eating or drinking
- becoming short of breath when eating and drinking.
How can Speech and Language Therapists help with swallowing difficulties?
Speech and language therapists are trained to provide assessment, treatment, support and care for people with swallowing difficulties. We look at what maybe going wrong in the mouth or in the throat.
Food and drink descriptors for people with dysphagia
Walsall Speech and Language Therapy follow The International Dysphagia Diet Standardisation Initiative (IDDSI) which aims to standardising the terms we use to describe food and drink textures
For more information on these descriptors follow the link below: