What is dysphagia?
Swallowing is a series of neurogenic sensorimotor events that are initiated by recognizing the presence, taste, temperature, and visocity of food or fluid in the oral cavity, followed by the preparation to a consistnecy that can be swallowed and finalized by safe transportation through the oral, pharyngeal, and esophageal structures (Logemann, 2007). Dysphagia is difficulties with any aspect of swallowing.
What are some symptoms of dysphagia?
- Choking, coughing, or gagging when swallowing
- Sensation of food getting stuck in throat
- Unexplained weight loss
- Difficulty controlling food in mouth
- Regurgitation of food into mouth or noise
- Food or stomach acid backing up in throat
- Difficulty starting a swallow
- Painful swallow (odynophagia)
- Having to alter your food or drink preparation in order to successfully swallow
What are some consequences of dysphagia?
- Recurrent pneumonia
- Failure to thrive
- Reduced quality of life
- Chronic lung disease
- Decreased social connection
If I think I have dysphagia, what should I do?
If you are experiencing symptoms of dysphagia, ask your physician for a referral to a local Speech-Language Pathologist who specializes in swallowing disorders. Many large hospitals or university medical centers have specialized outpatient clinics that address swallowing disorders.
You can also access resources for dysphagia through ASHA or find a Board-Certified Specialist in Swallowing.