Clinical Hub,Patient Education,Health and Nutrition Facts For You,Neuro, Rehab

Dysphagia (7086)

Dysphagia (7086) - Clinical Hub, Patient Education, Health and Nutrition Facts For You, Neuro, Rehab



What is dysphagia?
Dysphagia means that you have problems
swallowing. You may not be able to
swallow at all or you may have problems
swallowing certain foods, liquids, pills
and/or your saliva. Swallowing problems
can cause concern because it may affect
your health.

What are the signs and symptoms of
ξ Coughing or choking during or after
eating or drinking
ξ Food staying in your mouth after
ξ Food or liquid leaking from your
ξ Feeling like food is stuck in your
throat or chest
ξ Drooling
ξ Repeat pneumonias
ξ Hoarse or wet gurgling voice
ξ Pain when you swallow
ξ Heartburn
ξ Gag or vomit
ξ Losing weight without trying
ξ Not drinking enough fluid

Sometimes symptoms are not seen but there
may still be swallowing problems. Signs to
watch for are:
ξ Changes in your lungs and breathing
(pneumonia, or having a hard time
breathing after eating or drinking)
ξ Changes in your voice, such as
gurgling voice, weaker voice or no
voice at all
ξ Problems being awake enough to eat
a meal

If you have trouble swallowing, these
problems could happen:
 May not be able to drink enough
 Pneumonia
 Poor nutrition
 Weight loss
 Feeling very tired
 Weakness
 Longer hospital stay

How is a swallowing problem diagnosed?
If your doctors or nurses think you have
swallowing problems, they will ask a
swallow therapist to check your swallow.

What is a bedside swallow evaluation?
A licensed speech-language therapist
(swallow therapist) from the UW Voice and
Swallow Clinic will come to your room to
test your swallow. You will sit upright in
your bed or in a chair. The swallow
therapist will check to see if you are able to
swallow water, semi-solid and solid foods.
They may feel your neck while you
swallow. While you swallow, the therapist
will watch and listen for signs of swallowing
problems. If the therapist thinks that you
have problems swallowing, they may do one
of the tests below.

What is a videofluoroscopic swallow
study (VFSS)?
You will go to the Radiology Department
for this test. During this test, you will
swallow barium liquids, semi-solid and solid
foods, and possibly pills. While you
swallow, a video x-ray will be taken of your
mouth and throat to see if and where you are
having problems.

Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you
have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This
is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each
person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using
this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright © 11/2016 University of Wisconsin Hospitals
and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#7086

What is a fiberoptic endoscopic
evaluation of swallow (FEES)?
This test is done at the bedside or in clinic
by a swallow therapist. You will sit upright
in your bed or a chair for this test. A small
camera called an endoscope will slide
through your nose. This will allow the
swallow therapist to look at your throat and
watch where the food and liquid are going
when you swallow.

These tests will show if and where you are
having trouble swallowing. If you have
swallowing problems, the swallow therapist
will tell you the type of diet and fluid
textures you need as well as the best way to
take your medicine. Sometimes a person
may not be able to eat any food or drink
liquids because of the high risk of them
going into the lungs.

Prescribed Diet
Based on the results of your swallow study,
your diet may be changed to make it easier
for you to swallow. Sometimes, certain
food textures or thicker liquids make
swallowing easier.

The different diet types are
ξ NPO - nothing by mouth
ξ Pureed Consistency - foods with
smooth textures (applesauce,
ξ Minced Consistency - 1/8 inch
ξ Diced consistency - 1/4 inch cubes
ξ Advanced Soft – most foods are
okay, except sticky and chewy foods
ξ General – normal diet

Different liquid textures include:
ξ No liquids
ξ Honey thick liquids – thickest
ξ Nectar thick liquids – thinner than
ξ Thin liquids – regular liquid textures

Supervision – Sometimes you will need to
have someone with you while you eat. This
is to make sure you are swallowing okay.
ξ 1:1 – constant watching
ξ Intermittent – someone will check in
on you.
ξ Independent – you can eat on your

Your medicine may need to be given in a
special way. You may need:
 Only liquid medicine
 Crushed in puree – pills will be
crushed and put in a pureed food
 Whole in puree – pills do not need to
be crushed but will still be given in a
pureed food
 Whole with thickened liquids – the
whole pill is given with a glass of
thickened liquids
 Whole with thin liquids – the whole
pill is given with a glass of water

When you swallow you may need to use
special ways to help the food and liquids go
into the stomach. There may be positions or
feeding methods that help foods or liquids to
move safely past your windpipe. The
swallow therapist will know if you need
exercises based on the results of the tests
and will teach you what you need to do to
swallow safely. They may teach you
swallowing exercises to help strengthen the
muscles you use to swallow. The
swallowing therapist and care team will
write a plan to manage your swallowing
problems before you leave the hospital or at
an outpatient appointment.