Swallowing difficulties

We swallow food, drink or saliva hundreds of times a day without thinking about it.

If any part of the swallowing process is not working properly, you may have difficulty eating and/or drinking. This can lead to reduced enjoyment in eating and drinking and reduced food intake. The medical term for swallowing difficulties is dysphagia. Dysphagia can also lead to an increased risk of choking or chest infections.

What problems might I experience?

  • Difficulty holding food or drink in the mouth
  • Food irritating or sticking in your throat – your voice may sound wet or bubbly
  • Coughing or choking on food or drink. This could happen straight away or a moment or two after you have swallowed
  • Feeling breathless during and/or after eating

How will we support you?

Our speech and language therapists assess and support the process of eating and drinking. We will provide advice and strategies during the assessment, identifying risks of aspiration (the inhalation of food/fluid into the airway) and provide safe eating and drinking recommendations. Some people may require their food or fluid to be modified to make swallowing as easy and safe as possible. The IDDSI Framework is a useful resource for patients with dysphagia and/or those who have been advised to follow a modified food or fluid intake.

Get support with swallowing food, drink and medication.

Further investigation may be required, such as a videofluoroscopy or FEES (Fiberoptic Endoscopic Evaluation of Swallowing).

You can learn more about these investigations along with general advice about swallowing in our patient information leaflets.

For further information on and support with specific conditions such as dementia, MS, Parkinson’s disease etc, please look at our helpful links pages.

Dysphagia training

We offer dysphagia training to healthcare staff, to provide them with the skills and competence to offer best practice in mouthcare and eating and drinking. Learn more.