What is Dysphagia?
Dysphagia in adults is a swallowing disorder that can speech, chewing, moving food and/or liquids into the throat as well as other aspects of swallowing. An adult with dysphagia, depending on the phase of the disorder, will have trouble bringing food and water from their mouth into their stomach due to the lack of motor skills to do so. Although it is common in older adults with Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease, this disorder can also affect infants and people with brain or nervous system issues/trauma.
A lot of the time, when a person has Dysphagia, the esophagus’ ability to contract and squeeze to allow food to pass is not fully operational. A person with dysphagia disorder could find themselves coughing before and/or after swallowing, trouble getting down food and liquid on the first try, experience food or liquid could rise back up after swallowing, having heartburn and feel as though there is food stuck in their throat or chest.
Dysphagia can be caused by the following: stroke, head trauma leading to brain injury, spinal cord injury, conditions that cause nervous system problems, esophageal spasms, scleroderma and more. Having a dry mouth can worsen dysphagia. This is because it makes the swallowing process even harder as saliva is used to moisten and break down solids.
How I Treat Dysphagia
Dysphagia speech therapy in Denver integrates the person’s wishes for their diet, overall health, and evidence-based practice. I consider their weight, prior diagnoses, overall nutrition, and even the amount of time it requires them to finish a meal.
Interventions may include training a person to use positioning techniques or maneuvers to facilitate swallowing, diet recommendations, and rehabilitation of the swallowing muscles through exercise. Referrals for diagnostic testing (e.g., swallow study) are made to help determine if a person is aspirating (i.e., food or liquid entering the airway) and why.