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Dysphagia (Swallowing)

Something as simple as swallowing our food and drink every day requires over 30 muscles and nerves to work together seamlessly. Sometimes, we can develop an inability to swallow food or drink safely and it may ‘go down the wrong way’ and into our lungs, this is what is called Dysphagia.

Dysphagia is a swallowing difficulty that can happen to anyone at any time but you may be more at risk of Dysphagia following a neurological event such as a stroke or a traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Dysphagia refers to any problem with sucking, swallowing, drinking, chewing, eating, controlling saliva, taking medication, or protecting the lungs from food and drink ‘going down the wrong way’.

DISCLAIMER: Dysphagia is a condition that can be life-threatening. If you're having trouble breathing, dial '000' right away. If you can't swallow because the food has been caught in your throat or chest, please go to the nearest hospital or emergency department

older woman drinking tea

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Symptoms of Dysphagia?

Some symptoms of dysphagia include:

  • Feeling that food/drink gets stuck in the throat or in the chest area (sternum)

  • Coughing and choking during meals

  • Shortness of breath during meals

  • Unexplained weight loss

  • Frequent chest infections with no known cause

  • Vomiting after eating

  • Having to cut up food into bite-size pieces because of swallowing difficulty

The important thing to remember is that while these symptoms can be indicative of Dysphagia, they can also be caused by many other conditions. If you're concerned about your health or someone you care for, we advise our patients to speak with their physician or family GP to discuss current symptoms and rule out any underlying diseases or problems.

Treatment Options

After a patient is diagnosed with Dysphagia or swallowing problems, a Speech Pathologist may recommend any of the following:

  • Diet modification to specific food textures

  • Collaboration with a Dietician

  • Prescribing food or drink thickener products

  • Use of specialised eating and drinking utensils

  • Exercises to assist a person to swallow safely

  • Regular checkups to monitor if a patient's condition worsens

If you have a concern about your swallowing or someone you care for, please don’t hesitate to contact us as soon as possible to book a Dysphagia Assessment. Due to the risks of Dysphagia, we aim to fast-track appointments as the highest priority in our clinic.

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