Swallowing

Dysphagia is a condition in which disruption of the swallowing process interferes with a patient’s ability to eat and swallow safely

What is dysphagia?

Dysphagia is a condition in which disruption of the swallowing process interferes with a person’s ability to eat and swallow safely. It can result in aspiration, aspiration pneumonia, malnutrition, dehydration, weight loss, and airway obstruction. The goals of dysphagia treatment are to maintain adequate nutritional intake for the patient and to maximize airway protection.

What are the signs and symptoms of dysphagia?

Signs and symptoms of oral or pharyngeal dysphagia include the following:

  • Coughing or choking with swallowing
  • Abnormal volitional cough
  • Change in voice quality
  • Chronic respiratory illness
  • Multiple swallows/special maneuvers needed to clear throat
  • Long mealtime (30+ minutes)
  • Frequent low grade fever, especially after meals
  • Globus or feeling of food being stuck in throat
  • Diet modifications (thickening, purred foods soft solids)
  • Difficulty initiating a swallow
  • Spillage of food/liquids from lips and/or drooling
  • Regurgitation during or after the meal
  • Weight loss, dehydration

How does a Speech Language Pathologist treat dysphagia?

Following a comprehensive Dysphagia Assessment treatment may involve the following:

  • Oral motor strengthening
  • Swallowing Maneuvers
  • Compensatory techniques
  • Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation
  • Biofeedback (sEMG)
  • Thermal tactile stimulation
  • Manual therapy
  • Expiratory muscle training
  • Diet modifications
  • Positioning changes during PO intake

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