Dysphagia describes eating and drinking disorders in children and adults which may occur in the oral, pharyngeal and oesophageal stages of deglutition.
Contained in this definition are problems positioning food in the mouth and in oral movements, including sucking, mastication and the process of swallowing. The ‘normal’ swallow needs the respiratory, oral, pharyngeal, laryngeal and oesophageal anatomical structures to function in synchrony, which is dependent upon the motor and sensory nervous system being intact.
- The speech and language therapist has a key role in assisting patients to make informed decisions when balancing the risks and benefits of treatment options.
- Speech and language therapists have a key role in educating/training others in identifying, assessing and managing dysphagia.
- Persons with long-term conditions, who have transient, intermittent, persistent or progressive dysphagia often remain at risk of the complications associated with dysphagia and require the SLT to monitor and review progress over time.
For more information read our Dysphagia factsheet.
View dysphagia sections:
- Introduction: characteristics, aetiology, vulnerability and risk issues.
- Role of speech and language therapy: assessment, diagnosis and management.
- National policy context: national policies, government reports and legislation relating to dysphagia from across the UK.
- Prevalence and incidence statistics
- Evidence and research
- Guidelines and supporting resources
- RCSLT Bulletin feature articles
- Competencies and training: RCSLT and non-RCSLT competencies and training for SLTs/non-SLTs.
- Useful contacts: nearest clinical excellence network, how to get involved with RCSLT work relating to dysphagia.
- Reference list
- Website contributors and date of last review
Cross-reference with other topic areas:
- Acquired motor speech disorders
- Adult Respiratory Care
- Brain injury
- Cleft lip and palate
- Head and neck cancer
- Learning disabilities
- Motor disorders
- Progressive neurological disorders