What is Dysphagia?

Dysphagia is simply defined as a swallowing disorder. It can occur in any of the three phases of swallowing:

  1. Oral
  2. Pharyngeal
  3. Esophageal

Dysphagia is often noted in stroke survivors and can affect the oral and/or pharyngeal phase of swallowing. The patient may cough or choke while attempting to swallow saliva, liquids, or food. A speech-language pathologist often assesses a patient’s ability to swallow in order to determine the risk of aspiration, (food or liquid going into the lungs) which potentially may lead to a lung infection or pneumonia.

Stroke survivors are at risk for silent aspiration. Silent aspiration is when food and liquid enter into the lungs without any coughing or choking. In these patients, there are no outward signs or symptoms of a swallowing problem.

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