Senior Speech Pathologist, Tamsin, discusses what dysphagia is and how we can help
Dysphagia – pronounced dis-fay-juh.
It means – “Difficulty or discomfort in swallowing”
Did you know around 1 million Australians have dysphagia? That is around 1 in 17 people who will experience some form of dysphagia in their lifetime.
We swallow, on average around 700 times a day! We use 26 muscles in our mouth, tongue and next to swallow. Swallowing difficulties can happen to people who have had a stroke, Parkinsons’
Disease, Alzhemiers, mental health disorders, head and neck cancer after radiotherapy.
Difficulty swallowing can mean that you need to make changes your food and drinks to make swallowing as safe as possible, and to avoid the risk of choking when eating or drinking.
Speech Pathologists assess swallowing by checking muscle structure and function, your ability to chew food and move it around in your mouth. They also check the smoothness and speed of your swallow, and observe how this changes with different foods and liquids. Sometimes we use an Xray machine so we can observe how your food or drink moves as you swallow it.
After an assessment a Speech Pathologist can then suggest different strategies, swallow rehabilitation exercises or modifications to diet and fluids to help make swallowing easier and safer.