Dysphagia (swallowing)

Dysphagia (swallowing)

Dysphagia is the term used to describe a swallowing disorder usually resulting from a neurological or physical impairment of the oral, pharyngeal or oesophageal mechanisms. Disorders of swallowing are associated with increased likelihood of aspiration, chest infections and pneumonia. Dysphagia can be a transient, persistent or deteriorating symptom according to the underlying pathology.

Definition taken from RCSLT Resource Manual for Commissioning and Planning Services for SLCN

The role of the SLT in dysphagia management is to:

  • Assess the patient’s swallow to determine the likely cause of the difficulty- this may include a detailed case history, an assessment of the oro-motor muscles, oral trials/mealtime observation and possible instrumental evaluation.
  • Give recommendations to help ensure the patient is swallowing safely- these may include changes to the consistency of diet or fluids, strategies or manoeuvres to increase safety when swallowing, alternative methods of feeding and/or exercises to improve the mechanisms of the muscles involved in swallowing.  

Useful links and documents