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Peninsula Community Health

Swallowing Problems

Important message for people with swallowing problems regarding drink thickening products - click here


What is Dysphagia?

Dysphagia is the medical name used to describe difficulty with swallowing. Swallowing problems can occur for many reasons. They are sometimes 

  • experienced after a stroke
  • experienced as part of long term neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s Disease or MS
  • occur with dementia or a variety of cancers.

However they can also occur as a result of stress, injury or other medical condition.

Swallowing Problems

What if I Have Concerns?

There is a variety of possible causes and it is important that the Adult Speech and Language therapist is aware of your medical history.

Because the cause may vary we ask that you raise any concerns about your swallowing with your GP, Consultant or other health professional who knows you well. They will be able to advise as to whether Speech and Language Therapy is needed. 

We will send you an appointment to be seen at a location near to your home. At the appointment we will ask various questions about the problem and we will examine your mouth and observe you eating and drinking. We may listen to your swallowing using a stethoscope and place a small gadget on your finger which helps us to see if your breathing changes after swallowing.

Following the assessment we may suggest specific exercises or techniques to assist your swallowing. Occasionally we may refer you to other professionals such as dietitians or physiotherapists or you may need an x-ray of your swallowing (videofluoroscopy)

We cannot help with every type of swallowing difficulty but we can often suggest another health professional or service that may be able to assist you.

Case Study

John experienced severe swallowing problems following a stroke which resulted in his being in hospital for some time. 

When he returned home he was unable to eat and drink normally but took small quantities of very soft foods and thickened fluids supplemented by a tube feed. 

His Speech and Language Therapist started a programme of treatment which was carried out daily by John and his wife. The Speech and Language Therapist visited John weekly, checked his progress, introduced new therapy and updated his exercise programme on each visit.

After four weeks John started eating less soft foods and two weeks later was able to have his first drink of tea without using thickener. After 10 weeks John’s tube was removed and he was able to take more normal foods and drink. John was delighted especially as he could continue going for pub lunches with family and friends as he had done before his stroke.

“I feel as if I’m living again” commented John.