Swallowing is a complex process that we usually take for granted when it works well. It involves the coordination of many muscles to move food and drinks safely from your mouth to your stomach.
Swallowing difficulties, also known as dysphagia, can happen suddenly or more gradually over time. Dysphagia may affect your enjoyment of eating and drinking, may cause loss of weight, and can also be dangerous as it may result in choking and pneumonia.
Dysphagia can be caused by things like:
- Neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, motor neuron disease, multiple sclerosis
- Rheumatological conditions, such as scleroderma, polymyositis, Sjogren’s syndrome
- Respiratory conditions, such as COPD
- Surgical procedures, such as thyroidectomy or ACDF surgery
- Head and neck cancer
- Cognitive changes, such as dementia
- Head injury
You may be experiencing dysphagia if you have any of the following symptoms:
- Coughing or choking when eating and drinking
- Food or fluids getting stuck in your throat
- Problems chewing food
- Difficulty initiating a swallow
- Food or drinks coming out of your nose
- Pain when swallowing
- Feeling of a lump in the throat
Speech pathologists are experts in the assessment and management of dysphagia.
Stephanie will ask you questions about your swallowing difficulties and assess the nerves and muscles required for swallowing. Endoscopic evaluation of swallowing (FEES) is available to observe your swallowing anatomy and function. It is conducted in rooms and does not require any preparation or fasting.
Stephanie provides treatment for dysphagia that is based on the latest evidence-based research. Treatment may involve strategies and techniques to minimise dysphagia symptoms, or therapy exercises to rehabilitate swallow function.