Dysphagia - What You Need To Know

Dysphagia – What You Need to Know and How to Cater For It

16/01/2018
Dysphagia – What You Need to Know and How to Cater For It

Written by Dr Karen Abbey

Foodservice Dietitian (APD) PhD

Church Resources Foodservice Ambassador


 

The ability to swallow is mostly seen as an afterthought and occurs quite naturally when we eat. However, there are incidences when the ability to swallow can become compromised making it difficult to swallow foods and drink fluids.

Dysphagia is the medical term for swallowing difficulties. It can occur for a number of reasons but the most common are:

  • Stroke
  • Issues within the mouth, tongue, weakened throat muscles
  • Parkinson
  • Head & neck cancer
  • Motor neurone disease
  • Dementia

Symptoms and Effects

Dysphagia can range from mild to severe and occurs more frequently within the elderly population. It can make eating and drinking difficult and unsafe as dysphagia can be undiagnosed or untreated. This places the person at risk of pulmonary aspiration and aspiration pneumonia if food and fluids gets into the lungs which can cause serious infections.

The major symptom of dysphagia is the inability to swallow solid foods as they get stuck or pool in the mouth. Other symptoms include coughing after eating and drinking and trying to clear food.

Treating and Catering For Dysphagia

Above: International Dysphagia Standards which provides a clear distinction between the various levels of texture modified foods.

Above: International Dysphagia Standards which provides a clear distinction between the various levels of texture modified foods.

There are many ways to treat dysphagia, such as swallowing therapy, dietary changes, feeding tubes, medication and surgery. When it comes to food, it can be modified into different textures, soft, cut up, bite-size, minced & moist and pureed/vitamised. Fluids can also be thickened to different levels to ensure that they are safe to swallow, hold together to avoid going into the lungs. Important points to remember when a person has problems with swallowing is to make sure

  • Getting enough fluids to avoid dehydration
  • Food eaten is correct and of the right texture or thickness
  • Monitor food intake
  • Try and make the food look appealing and appetising
  • Provide a wide variety of foods

It is important to get the essential support from Dietitians and Speech Pathologist to help support and diagnose dysphagia.


Church Resources Members have access to our wide range of Foodservice supply partners which carry products that can help support residents, patients and people in the community living with dysphagia.

Nestle Health Sciences – range of thickeners, thickened fluids and puree desserts

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Birch & Waite – thickened fluids and puree desserts

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CR exclusively services the NFP sector, bringing its Members better deals on a range of products and services that meet their specific needs. For more information about these products talk to CR today. Sign up with CR today to start enjoying our Member benefits.

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