Speech Therapy for Dysphagia

Our Speech Therapist works with patients with various medical diagnoses that are affacted by swollowing issues.  If you have specific questions about if you or someone you know can benefit from swallowing therapy provided by our speech therapist, contact our office.  

What is Dysphagia?

Dysphagia is swallowing and feeding disorders caused by a variety of disorders. Feeding disorders include problems gathering food and getting ready to suck, chew, or swallow it. For example, a child who cannot pick up food and get it to her mouth or cannot completely close her lips to keep food from falling out of her mouth may have a feeding disorder.
Swallowing disorders, can occur at different stages in the swallowing process:
Oral phase – sucking, chewing, and moving food or liquid into the throat
Pharyngeal phase – starting the swallow, squeezing food down the throat, and closing off the airway to prevent food or liquid from entering the airway (aspiration) or to prevent choking
Esophageal phase – relaxing and tightening the openings at the top and bottom of the feeding tube in the throat (esophagus) and squeezing food through the esophagus into the stomach

Red flags for swallowing disorders in Children are:
arching or stiffening of the body during feeding
irritability or lack of alertness during feeding
refusing food or liquid
failure to accept different textures of food (e.g., only pureed foods or crunchy cereals)
long feeding times (e.g., more than 30 minutes)
difficulty chewing
difficulty breast feeding
coughing or gagging during meals
excessive drooling or food/liquid coming out of the mouth or nose
difficulty coordinating breathing with eating and drinking
increased stuffiness during meals
gurgly, hoarse, or breathy voice quality
frequent spitting up or vomiting
recurring pneumonia or respiratory infections
less than normal weight gain or growth

Red Flags for swallowing disorders in adults are:
coughing during or right after eating or drinking
wet or gurgly sounding voice during or after eating or drinking
extra effort or time needed to chew or swallow
food or liquid leaking from the mouth or getting stuck in the mouth
recurring pneumonia or chest congestion after eating
weight loss or dehydration from not being able to eat enough

As a result, child and adults may have:
poor nutrition or dehydration
risk of aspiration (food or liquid entering the airway), which can lead to pneumonia and chronic lung disease
less enjoyment of eating or drinking
embarrassment or isolation in social situations involving eating

For more information visit: www.asha.org/public/speech/swallowing