Speech Therapy

Communication Problems in Swallowing and Feeding Disorders

Swallowing Disorder and Feeding Disorders are always related to Communication disability in some way.

Swallowing Disorder:

Swallowing disorders can occur in all age groups. It may be due to medical conditions or structural problems. Difficulty in swallowing is termed as Swallowing Disorder . In general Swallowing Disorder is considered as Dysphagia . Because in Geek, Dys means ‘difficulty’ and phagus means ‘to eat’. It occurs as a feeling of obstruction during the passage of food or liquid from the mouth. Similarly, Odynophagia is another related swallowing disorder which is defined as painful swallowing. When a sensation of a lump in felt in the throat, it is known as Globus . In few cases, difficulty in swallowing results from psychological effect. This is termed as Psychogenic Dysphagia or Phagophagia . Untreated Dysphagia may lead to Aspiration where the foods or liquids enter the lungs wrongly. Commonly the inability to swallow solid food is due to Esophageal Dysphagia . When a patient complains swallowing of fluid is more difficulty than in solids, it is called Achalasia.

The following Communication Disabilities are seen in patients with Swallowing Disorder:

  • Inability to control saliva in mouth, which interferes with normal speaking.
  • Coughing and choking regularly also hinders speaking.
  • Wet voice after swallowing and nasal regurgitation (back flow of contents from nasal cavity) makes speaking difficult.

Feeding Disorder:

Feeding Disorder only affects in few persons whose health is hampered nutritionally. Thus, affecting his mental conditions and communication ability.

The following methods of treatment are followed:

Swallowing Methods:

Supraglottic Swallow is advised where the patient takes a deep breath, holds breath, swallows food and coughs immediately after swallowing.
In Super-supraglottic swallow the patient takes a breath, holds breath tightly bearing down, swallows and coughs immediately.
Effortful Swallow process is to squeeze muscles tightly and then swallow.
Mendelsohn Maneuver method is used to teach the patient to hold their adam’s apple up while swallowing.

Diet Modifications:
Some require soft diet which can be easily chewed. Some may need liquid diet or diet of thin consistency. But intake of required nutrients should be ensured.

Other Modifications:
Straws, spoons or head support may be provided to some people to ease their intake of food. Use aids to distract the attention from eating problems. Using sour, cold or large bolus may help in swallowing faster.

Electrical Stimulation:
Special electric devices are used to increase the muscle activity for better swallowing.

Surgical Treatments:
In few extreme cases, surgery may be suggested to control the abnormal functions of the organs responsible for speaking and swallowing.

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