Dysphagia — Swallowing Disorders

Dysphagia is difficulty with swallowing. There may be difficulty with lips closing and poor tongue coordination in which food is not properly moved from front to back of mouth.
Muscles of the face may be weak and allow food to collect in the cheeks. There could also be a problem with a delayed swallow reflex allowing food to enter the airway before muscles in the pharynx close the windpipe (larynx). The muscles pushing food through the pharynx could be damaged or weakened, causing food to be left behind in the throat.

At times a person may feel "a lump in the throat" or feel like something is caught in the throat.

What are the Symptoms of Swallowing Difficulty

  • Coughing while eating or drinking or soon after eating or drinking
  • Wet sounding voice during or after eating
  • Increased congestion in the chest after eating or drinking
  • Slow eating
  • Multiple swallows on a single mouthful of food
  • Obvious excessive effort or difficulty while chewing or swallowing
  • Fatigue or shortness of breath while eating
  • Temperature rise 30 minutes to an hour after eating
  • Weight loss associated with increased slowness of eating
  • Frequent recurring pneumonia

What are the Causes of Swallowing Difficulty

  • Stroke
  • Head trauma
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Myasthena gravis
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Injury to neck or head
  • Dry mouth
  • Other neurogenic disorders

If you have any symptoms or concerns, contact your physician who can refer you to a speech-language pathologist with training in dysphagia.

Cindy Cowing
664-5472 or Fax 664-5476