Dysphagia - Swallowing Disorder

Dysphagia is defined as difficulty swallowing. Difficulty swallowing can occur in the oral stage (chewing, sucking, controlling food or liquid), in the pharyngeal stage (moving food or liquid through the throat efficiently), or in the esophageal stage (moving food and liquid through the esophagus to the stomach).  Patients with dysphagia are at risk for safety and nutritional deficits, and should be evaluated and treated by a speech therapist. 

Specific signs of dysphagia include the following:      

  • Difficulty chewing, loss of food or liquid from the mouth, or excessive residue in the mouth.      
  • Frequent coughing while eating or drinking.       
  • Wet or gurgly vocal quality after drinking.   
  • Recurring pneumonia.      
  • Chronic weight loss or dehydration.        
  • Reflux, or symptoms or heartburn, associated with a feeling of food or liquid “coming back up.” 

At Lake Regional, assessment of swallowing disorders can be completed by modified barium swallow study (x-ray video) or tableside clinical assessment.  Lake Regional’s speech therapy team has superior clinical experience in evaluating and treating swallowing disorders, and customizes each treatment plan to each individual’s unique needs for optimal outcomes in swallowing and eating. 

For more information about dysphagia, please visit the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) -  ASHA website.