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“Swallow Safely” – A Book for Dysphagia Patients and Everyone Who Loves To Eat

Front Cover (Swallow Safely)[Editor’s note: I had the opportunity and pleasure to Skype with and interview the “Swallow Safely” book authors, Roya Sayadi, Ph.D., CCC-SLP and Joel Herskowitz, M.D.  This article is about their book, the motivation behind it, and who should read it. Ed Steger, President, NFOSD]

This book is a quick read and includes topics on how swallowing works, what happens when it doesn’t work, aspiration pneumonia, disorder assessment and treatment, and finding help. It is easy to read and includes a list of warning signs that may suggest a swallowing problem (e.g., coughing or clearing the throat frequently while eating; a gargled voice after eating) with clear steps to take if you encounter these or other warning signals.

Jeri Logemann, Ph.D., inventor of the Modified Barium Swallow (MBS) test, sometimes credited with creating the “dysphagia industry” years ago, had this to say: “I think this book will be very helpful to dysphagia patients, their families, and all of us who love to eat. I liked it very much.”

The authors wrote this book for all the right reasons: 1) serving an underserved community of persons with swallowing disorders and 2) increasing dysphagia awareness in patients, caregivers, families, and the professional community.

During the interview we discussed patients who had read this book after seeing their physician and were angry and frustrated that they had been “dismissed” by their medical providers. One story in particular struck home. A person complained about difficult swallowing to their physician. The physician was not especially concerned – chalking the complaint up to “allergy.” The issue wasn’t explained until later when the patient was found to have oral cancer.

It’s tough playing “what if” games. But “what if” that physician had caught this earlier? “What if” this patient had received earlier treatment? There are many “what ifs ” — many such questions we will never know the answer to – especially….would the patient outcome have been different if diagnosed at an earlier stage?

We talked about the cost of dysphagia on the healthcare industry. The authors shared a study published in 2010 by the American Academy Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery.  The article compared the cost of hospitalization for people with and without dysphagia. Conservatively, the cost attributed directly to dysphagia was over $500 million annually. Click here for a copy of the study. When compared to how little we spend on dysphagia prevention, treatment, and research versus the cost burden on our healthcare system, the scale is tipped strongly on the wrong side of this equation.

This book is being used in support group meetings throughout this country and others. Meeting facilitators are having a hard time keeping up with the demand for this book as it is constantly being checked out. Patient and family feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.

If you have (or think you have) a swallowing disorder, or suspect that someone you know may have a swallowing disorder, or if you just want to know more about a disorder that affects an estimated 1 in 20 Americans and is too often misunderstood and often misdiagnosed, then this book is for you.

You may order the book online at the following website:

When you place your order, if you include a note with your order to the publisher that you heard about the book from the National Foundation of Swallowing Disorders (NFOSD), the publisher will make a small donation to our foundation for each book purchased.

The NFOSD would like to thank Roya and Joel for the incredible passion they placed into this book project. It is so perfect, in so many ways, for so many of us. THANK YOU!