Nancy C. Calamusa, MA, CCC-SLP Director, NJPFA Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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T (212) 453-0036 F (212) 453-0037
Dysphagia is the medical term for the symptom of difficulty in swallowing. Although classified under “symptoms and signs” in ICD-10, the term is sometimes used as a condition in its own right. Sufferers are sometimes unaware of their dysphagia.
It is derived from the Greek dys meaning bad or disordered, and phago meaning “eat”. It may be a sensation that suggests difficulty in the passage of solids or liquids from the mouth to the stomach, a lack of pharyngeal sensation, or various other inadequacies of the swallowing mechanism. Dysphagia is distinguished from other symptoms including odynophagia, which is defined as painful swallowing, and globus, which is the sensation of a lump in the throat. A psychogenic dysphagia is known as phagophobia.
Individuals who suffer from dysphagia are often ordered onto thickened fluids. The thicker consistency makes it less likely that an individual with dysphagia will aspirate while they are drinking. Individuals with difficulty swallowing may find liquids cause coughing, spluttering or even choking and thickening drinks enables them to swallow safely. A range of commercial thickening agents are available to purchase for the dietary management of dysphagia.
It is also worthwhile to refer to the physiology of swallowing in understanding dysphagia.