What is dysphagia?

Dysphagia refers to difficulty in swallowing.

Oropharyngeal dysphagia is the most common form of dysphagia in older people, and the most common causes are neurological disorders such as stroke, Parkinson disease, and dementia. Oropharyngeal dysphagia may be characterised by difficulty in initiation of swallowing and the impaired transfer of food from the oral cavity to the oesophagus. Oropharyngeal dysphagia causes increased morbidity and mortality through dehydration, malnutrition and aspiration pneumonia, and may be associated with depression and deterioration in quality of life.

Source: RACGP Royal Australian College of General Practitioners.

What impact does Dysphagia have on people?

Dysphagia can have a serious impact on quality of life. Dysphagia can increase the risk of aspiration and pneumonia, choking, drooling and difficulty containing foods and fluids in the mouth. This can cause people to avoid eating through embarrassment, and can cause reduced enjoyment in eating and drinking. Overtime, people with dysphagia are more likely to suffer with dehydration and malnutrition and therefore it is important to manage their condition by adapting their eating and drinking.

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