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Dysphagia

Dysphagia

What is Dysphagia?

Dysphagia is difficulty with swallowing, occurring at one or more of the different stages. Oral phase dysphagia is difficulty with preparing the food for swallowing, including chewing, sucking, and moving the food and liquid toward the back of the throat. Pharyngeal phase dysphagia involves the process of moving food and liquid through the throat toward the esophagus. Difficulty with the pharyngeal phase of swallowing can lead to choking, aspiration, or getting food stuck in your throat. Esophageal phase dysphagia is difficulty with food traveling from the top of the esophagus into the stomach. Dysphagia has many etiologies, including stroke, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, head and neck cancer, prolonged intubation, and advanced age. Signs of dysphagia include:

  • Coughing/clearing your throat during or right after eating
  • Wet or gurgly sounding voice during or after eating
  • Food or liquid spilling from mouth
  • Recurrent pneumonia or chest congestion
  • Weight loss or dehydration from not eating enough

 

Speech Therapy for Dysphagia

A speech-language pathologist works with patients to screen, assess, diagnose, and treat individuals with dysphagia. Treatment focuses on swallowing treatment and strategies to prevent aspiration and make swallowing safer for individuals. Therapeutic exercises may be given to address weakness of muscles involved in swallowing. Recommendations related to food textures and liquid thickness may be given to prevent aspiration. We have the capability to complete Videoflouroscopic Swallow Studies to determine swallow function and detect aspiration.