8 Helpful Things To Know About Dysphagia

If you, your loved one, or a patient you care for is struggling from swallowing difficulties, here are a few things that are helpful to know. Hopefully, they should give you a little more knowledge about the condition, as well as how to successfully manage it day to day.


1Dysphagia and dysphasia are not the same

Even when you’re googling dysphagia, dysphasia often comes up, which isn’t very helpful, as it can mean people confuse the two.

While dysphagia refers to difficulty swallowing, dysphasia is difficulty with speech.


21 in 17 people develop dysphagia at some point in their life

This figure relates to even temporary dysphagia, as well as difficulty swallowing that develops from other conditions like cancer or Alzheimer’s in later life.

Dysphagia and dysphasia

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3There are two types of dysphagia

Oropharyngeal dysphagia is caused by problems in the throat or mouth. Esophageal dysphagia is lower down in the esophagus.

4The condition is usually diagnosed through the barium swallow test

This procedure uses x-rays to track how liquid travels through the mouth and throat to the stomach. It can help to identify where the issue lies in the swallowing process.

Types of dysphagia

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5Dysphagia is usually a secondary symptom for other conditions

There is often an initial condition that causes dysphagia to develop. It’s usually something that has impacted the nerves or muscles around the mouth and throat. For example, a stroke can make it difficult to swallow, as can particular cancers.


Age-related illnesses such as dementia, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s can also have the same effect.

6Different symptoms occur in different people

The signs of dysphagia can vary from person to person, making it a little more difficult to diagnose. However, common symptoms include coughing or choking when trying to eat or drink, excessive saliva production, feeling like there’s always food stuck in your throat, or even difficulty chewing.

Dysphagia is usually a secondary symptom

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7There are certain high-risk foods to be aware of

Certain foods can be more difficult to break down and swallow.


Mixing foods with different consistencies, for example, can be high risk. Cereal with milk, meat in thin gravy, or even dipping bread in soup can all be difficult to chew and swallow for those with dysphagia.

Other high-risk foods include husks or things with a dry exterior, stringy textures like melted cheese or green beans, and hard, crumbly foods.


Sometimes, it is better to thicken certain foods like gravy and milk with powders and gels like Simply Thick to make them more palatable. These thickeners don’t add an artificial flavor to the original food, so each meal can still be enjoyed.

8You can test the safeness of foods for dysphagia at home

When suffering from dysphagia, there are simple tests you can do to ensure food is compliant with your diagnosis. For example, using a fork to press down on food can identify the consistency of your meal. Another way to check is to scoop up some food on your fork. If the food drips or runs off the fork, it may need thickening.

Hopefully, these facts can help you identify your symptoms, test food, and enjoy nutritional, palatable meals.

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