Swallowing & Dysphagia

Difficulty with eating or drinking? Feeling pain when attempting to swallow?

Start overcoming swallowing challenges at home through online speech therapy.

Improve Swallowing Abilities

We may not think much about how complex it is, but eating needs proper coordination and a wide combination of muscle groups to do properly.

In certain diseases and disorders, their oral motor functions may become impaired. These can reduce one’s quality of life, affecting daily activities like eating and drinking.

If your loved one is having these challenges and would like to…

eat and drink more safely
avoid risks of choking or aspiration (food/drinks entering the lungs)
reduce drooling because of excess saliva
reduce acid reflux or regurgitation
lessen the pain when swallowing
chew food enough and properly
feel less like something is stuck in their throat
… speech therapy can assist through proper swallowing habits and practices.
Swallowing Choking Dysphagia adults

Swallowing/Choking/Dysphagia

Dysphagia is a motor disorder that affects someone’s swallowing process. Many people may cough or choke while eating, but dysphagia is a persistent challenge that someone may go through everyday.

It may be caused by certain disorders such as:

Stroke or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) that may impair the brain’s communication with muscles
Parkinson’s Disease, Lou Gehrig’s Disease, Dementia or other degenerative diseases.

Muscular dystrophy (muscle weakness or loss of muscle mass)

Head & Neck Cancer or Head & Neck Surgery
Because swallowing is complex, there could be many complications that could come from improper muscle actions. People with dysphagia often find it difficult to eat or drink and need assistance. They may also have persistent drooling.

If untreated, dysphagia can lead to further issues such as aspiration, which is when food or liquids go into the airway instead of the stomach. This can lead to a lung infection or pneumonia, which is why it’s important to place emphasis on safety.

Swallowing Choking Dysphagia adults

How do you treat/cure dysphagia?

Dysphagia is often a symptom of a disorder or a disease, so recovery may be dependent on what caused the swallowing challenges. For example, a majority of stroke survivors often recover swallowing abilities within 7 days.

In severe cases of dysphagia, they may be recommended to also use a feeding tube. For other cases such as degenerative diseases, absolute cure or medical treatment may not be possible.

However, speech and language therapists can help you and your loved one. You will learn new swallowing exercises and compensatory swallowing techniques that can ease the difficulties.

Phases of Swallowing

Phases of Swallowing

The severity and effects of dysphagia may vary from person to person. Swallowing occurs through three primary phases:
1.  Oral Preparatory Phase – chewing and turning food into something easily swallowed. Dysphagia may make it hard to maintain lip closure at this point, so food may spill out.
2.   Pharyngeal Phase – swallowing food down the throat. The airway to the lungs needs to close at this phase to avoid food entering the airway. People with dysphagia may have a higher risk of doing this.
3.  Esophageal Phase – squeezing food down from the throat to the stomach via the esophagus. Esophageal dysphagia may cause some discomfort in this phase.
It may be possible for your loved one to have complications on one or more of these phases. It’s important to seek a proper evaluation with a speech-language pathologist to determine what needs to be worked on.
Phases of Swallowing

How do speech therapists help with swallowing?

Speech-language pathology covers more than just aspects of communication. Therapists can also help them strengthen oral muscles through swallowing exercises. They can guide you with how they should sit and other postures recommended for proper eating.

Speech-language pathologists can help as well with dietary modifications. Some examples include softer foods or thicker drinks to make swallowing easier. It may also mean breaking down more solid foods for better intake.

If dysphagia is severe, your doctor may recommend a feeding tube. Speech therapists can guide you in using these devices more effectively and safely.

OUR SERVICES

How Apheleia Speech Therapy Can Help

Our online speech therapists will help you and your loved one work together at home to make swallowing easy again.
swallowing therapy service

Swallowing Therapy

Your therapist will provide guides according to your loved one’s personal swallowing difficulties. They will assist you with proper eating and swallowing exercises.

Lauren Templeton - Owner and Speech-Language Pathologist at Apheleia Speech Therapy

Lauren Templeton

Owner & Speech-Language Pathologist

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