Swallowing problems (dysphagia) can occur as a result of neurological impairment (occurring as a result of stroke or neurological disease) or structural abnormalities of the throat. They can also occur as a result of excessive muscle tension within the throat. Mild swallowing problems can result in difficulty swallowing certain kinds of foods such as bread or meat. More severe swallowing problems can result in food or fluids entering the airway, sometimes as far as the lungs. This can lead to more serious complications such as chest infections or pneumonia if not managed correctly.
Speech and Language Therapy for Swallowing problems
A thorough assessment of a swallowing problem is needed in order to provide the most appropriate advice. Sometimes, mild problems can be alleviated by slight changes in diet or posture. Some swallowing difficulties may require further investigation such as a referral for videofluoroscopy (a moving X-ray of swallowing function) to get a more detailed view of the problem. For more serious swallowing difficulties, a significant modification of diet and fluid intake may be required or in the most severe cases, an alternative method of feeding may be necessary to reduce the risk of serious chest infections.
Before you can be seen for an assessment of your swallowing function, you need to be referred by a doctor currently involved in your care. For more information about how you can ask for a referral, please click here to fill out an enquiry form.