As people age, the muscles in the mouth and throat weaken and can cause swallowing to become increasingly more uncomfortable or painful with signs of coughing, choking, or gagging. Some people report feeling like they can never fully clear their throat, have to “swallow hard” to get the food to go all the way down, or notice their voice sounding gurggly after eating. Swallowing disorders can include signs such as food getting stuck in the mouth, drooling, or trouble breathing after eating. A continuation of eating or drinking without proper strategies can accidentally lead to severe infections from fluid entering into the lungs that shouldn’t be there or even death from the airway being blocked. Thankfully, a Speech Language Pathologist has extensive knowledge of anatomy, physiology, and functional aspects of the head and neck for speech and swallowing!
5 Ways a Speech Language Pathologist Can Help:
- Identify signs and problems in swallowing
- Identify any abnormalities in your swallowing anatomy and physiology
- Administer a full swallowing evaluation
- Provide education and training on safe and effective treatments for swallowing difficulties
- Determine an appropriate diet depending on your swallowing abilities and caloric needs
All you need to do is contact your doctor for a referral!
Some helpful hints and tricks from our SLPs via the “AARP of Safe Eating”:
- A: Alternate between a bite of food and a sip of liquid
- A: Avoid drinking if there is food still in your mouth
- R: Reduce the amount of dry foods you eat or add a little sauce / gravy to make them moist
- P: Put a thickener in drinks so the liquid can move more slowly through the esophagus