Swallowing disorders, diagnostics and treatments

Swallowing difficulties, diagnostics and treatments is the issue of the day. A videofluorscopic swallowing evaluation is a radiologic exam that uses a type of X-ray called fluoroscopy. This test is performed by a speech-language pathologist. It shows the oral, pharyngeal, and esophageal phases of the swallow. During this examination, you’ll swallow a variety of consistencies ranging from purees to solids and thin and thickened liquid. This will help the doctor detect the ingestion of food and liquid into the trachea. They can use this information to diagnose muscle weakness and dysfunction.

Management of individuals with dysphagia should be based on results of the comprehensive assessment. Decision making must take into account many factors about the individual’s overall status and prognosis. This might include information concerning the individual’s health and diagnosis, cognition, social situation, cultural values, economic status, motivation, and personal choice. Of primary concern is how the individual’s health status can be maintained or maximized. The SLP should consider and integrate the patient’s wishes and advocate on behalf of the patient to the health care team, the family, and other relevant individuals. See more details at Swallowing disorders.

Dysphagia means difficulty with chewing or swallowing food or liquid. The dysphagia diet covers 5 levels for difficulty in swallowing. To understand how this might happen, it is important to know something about how swallowing occurs. First, food must be chewed thoroughly. Then it is moved to the back of the mouth by tightening the cheek muscles and pressing the tongue against the roof of the mouth. From this point on the process becomes automatic — it is a reflex that people do not actively control. In “rapid- fire” succession, the soft palate closes the nasal airway to prevent food from backing into it, the airway into the lungs is closed, and the esophagus (food pipe) relaxes allowing food and liquid to enter it. The muscular esophagus then contracts in a wave-like action, sweeping the food along into the stomach.

Liz has completed additional specialized training in treatment and management of dysphagia using endoscopy and working with tracheostomy/ventilator dependent and traumatic brain injury populations. Her professional areas of interest and expertise include adult dysphagia, cerebrovascular disorders, medically fragile, and end-of-life/palliative care. Liz has served as a Clinical Mentor for graduate students interested in the field of medical speech pathology and frequently guest lectures on a variety of topics relating to the Basics of Endoscopy, Medical Ethics, Supervision in Speech-Language Pathology, Counseling in Speech-Language Pathology, and Voice/Swallowing Disorders. She is actively licensed to practice in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Florida. See additional details on https://www.dysphagiainmotion.com/.