Swallowing difficulties

Did you know swallowing is a complex activity requiring the coordination of more than 55 pairs of muscles in the face, throat and neck, and six cranial nerves?

Like breathing, swallowing is a reflex and essential to everyday life. Swallowing difficulty, known as dysphagia, may present as difficulty drinking, chewing, swallowing, sucking, taking medication, controlling saliva or protecting the airway.

Dysphagia can be permanent or temporary, but if not managed properly, it can result in serious and potentially life threatening medical problems such as pneumonia and chest infections, choking, poor nutrition and dehydration. It can also have a significant impact on a person’s ability to enjoy eating and drinking in front of family and friends, leading to anxiety, depression and social isolation.

What are the signs of dysphagia?

  • Choking when eating or drinking
  • Difficulty swallowing dry or chewy foods
  • Food being left inside or around the mouth
  • Gurgly or wet voice after swallowing
  • Drooling or inability to control saliva
  • Pain when swallowing or a fear of eating
  • Sensation of food getting “stuck” in the throat or neck region
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Recurring chest infections
  • Pneumonia
  • Taking a long time to eat or become fatigued during or after a meal

How we can help

At Speak and Swallow, our caring team can assist with identifying and managing dysphagia. Our Speech Therapists have in-depth knowledge of compensatory and rehabilitation techniques which can support the short-term and long-term recovery or management of swallowing function through diet, exercises and Meal Management Plans.

A ‘Mealtime Management Plan’ is tailored to an individual’s needs and designed to promote safe and enjoyable mealtimes. This includes recommendations regarding the most appropriate types of food and drinks to have and identifying the best feeding position and method to ensure a person feels confident and remains safe during mealtimes.

At Speak and Swallow we can also assist in supporting clients who are engaging in ‘eating and drinking with acknowledged risk and/or comfort feeding’.

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