Dysphagia is the medical term for swallowing difficulties. Someone who is experiencing dysphagia will find it challenging when it comes to swallowing foods or liquids, or they might be unable to swallow at all. 

 

Causes of dysphagia

The cause of dysphagia can be the result of a number of health conditions. These can be divided into neurological causes, such as stroke, dementia, weakening of swallowing muscles, and mechanical causes, such as different cancers, cancer treatment including radiotherapy and surgery to the head and neck, and dental issues. To find out more information on what can cause dysphagia, click here. 

 

Types of dysphagia

There are two different types of dysphagia that someone can have, these would be:  

  • Oropharyngeal dysphagia, also called high dysphagia, which is usually caused by problems in the mouth or the throat
  • Oesophageal dysphagia, also known as low dysphagia, which is generally a result of problems in the oesophagus(the food pipe that carries food from your mouth to your stomach). 

When swallowing is impaired, attempting to swallow foods or liquids can cause food to 'go down the wrong way', which can lead to the person choking on their food. This means food particles can travel down the windpipe into the lungs – this is called pulmonary aspiration and can lead to pneumonia. Apart from choking, other common signs of dysphagia can include pain on swallowing, ‘wet’ or gurgly voice, spilling of food and drinks from the mouth, dry mouth, drooling, frequent chest infections (as a result of aspiration). It is important to consider a swallowing assessment by a Speech and Language Therapist following early recognition of dysphagia for effective and safe management. 

However, dysphagia is not always a permanent condition and can sometimes be temporary, such as having trouble swallowing whilst recovering from tooth extractionThe length of time someone experiences dysphagia for can depend on the severity and the cause of dysphagia. Swallowing rehabilitation with a Speech and Language Therapist can help improve your swallowing. 

 

Managing dysphagia

There are a few different solutions to help manage dysphagia – these would depend on the type of dysphagia someone has. A texture modified diet might be recommended specifically for an individual by a Speech and Language Therapist. Eating naturally softer foods help make mealtimes more manageable with less risk involved, so that you can enjoy the foods you love again. 

If advised by a Healthcare Professional to change dietit can become confusing to understand what food you are able to eat. (Read our blog post ‘Foods to Avoid With Dysphagia’ for more information on certain foods that are not safe for those living with dysphagia.) 

 A Speech and Language Therapist will be able to provide you with advice and information on what texture food will be right for you by giving you a level of food modification to follow in line with IDDSI guidelinesThese food and liquid descriptors were developed by the International Dysphagia Diet Standardisation Initiative (IDDSI) in collaboration with healthcare professionals and industry professionals. Find out more about IDDSI Levels and Framework here. 

 

How can our Softer Foods help?

Just because you are experiencing swallowing difficulties, does not mean you can't enjoy familiar flavours and quality ingredients. That’s why we developed our Softer Foods range to help those living with dysphagia enjoy good food again and to eat with confidence. Our meals come in three different textures: Level 4 Puréed, Level 5 Minced and Level 6 Soft & Bite-SizedBut not only this, we also offer breakfast dishes, snacks and desserts so we’ve got you covered for every meal timeTried, tested in line with IDDSI guidelines and refined by our expert chefs, each of our dishes are the tastiest and safest they can be. 

 

Our meals are the effortless way to enjoy good food every day in a texture that is right for you. 

If you would like to browse all of our Softer Foods dishes, simply request one of our FREE brochures today. 

Find out more about our meals for those with Swallowing Difficulties

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