Laura Michael, nutritionist and NFOSD board member, shows us various ways to thicken your liquids. Watch the video below!
By: Nancy B. Swigert*, M.A., CCC-SLP, BCS-S
[Editor’s note – We asked Ms. Swigert to write this article in response to the inquiries we receive weekly from people who feel they have been pushed aside by their physician when searching for assistance with a swallowing issue. There is a common set of themes… my doctor doesn’t believe me, he doesn’t see anything wrong (it’s in your head; have you seen a psychiatrist), and he can’t refer me to someone who might help. Although not every swallowing disorder can be addressed; there are science-based assessment tools and therapeutic techniques that can alleviate many swallowing issues. This article is a resource to help you find a clinician who is right for you.]
If you or your loved one has a swallowing problem, you may have experienced frustration as you looked for the right person to help. Often, the first call should be to a speech-language pathologist (SLP), but not just any speech-language pathologist. Because speech—language pathologists have a wide scope of practice, not every speech-language pathologist knows about swallowing.
Byline: Rebecca Leonard, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Otolaryngology, UC Davis
[Editors note: Click on the image below to view a 16 second video fluoroscopy clip of a swallow by a 20-something year old (on the left) versus a 70-something year old (on the right). Notice how smoothly liquids glide down the throat of the younger subject versus the effort and time required by the older subject to clear his throat. Comment — How nice it would be to be young again! Video provided courtesy of Rebecca Leonard.]
Swallowing difficulty (dysphagia) is a common consequence of many medical conditions, including stroke, chronic diseases that affect the nervous system and surgeries that affect the head and neck. But swallowing difficulty can also be associated with aging. In fact, it has been estimated that as many as 20% of individuals over the age of 50 years, and most individuals by the age of 80 years, experience some degree of swallowing difficulty. Individuals over the age of 65 years accounted for 12.9% of the U.S. population in 2009, and are expected to account for 19% of the population by 2030. These large and growing numbers motivate us to understand all we can about how aging affects swallowing. Hopefully, what we learn will help us treat, and possibly prevent, dysphagia in the elderly.