Dysphagia (pronounced dis-fay-juh) is the medical term used to describe difficulty swallowing – this includes problems with swallowing, drinking, chewing, eating, or when food or drink goes down the ‘wrong way’.
Dysphagia can affect people of all ages and is particularly common in the elderly, especially those over 85 years, with a third being at risk of dysphagia on admission to hospital (1). Certain medical conditions can also result in dysphagia, with research finding 80% of people with Parkinson’s Disease, 84% of people with dementia and up to 50% of those who suffered a stroke may have some form of dysphagia during the course of their illness.
Dysphagia is usually caused by nerve or muscle problems, which can affect the strength and coordination of swallowing.
Early signs of dysphagia are coughing or choking while eating and drinking. This means food, liquid or saliva might get into your lungs, making you unwell. Not everyone shows these signs, as people may silently be swallowing food, liquid and saliva into their lungs - a condition known as silent aspiration.
Over time, dysphagia can cause unintentional weight loss or repeated chest infections/pneumonia. You should see your doctor if signs and symptoms of dysphagia occur.
Treatment depends on the underlying cause of dysphagia so speaking to your doctor or speech pathologist/speech therapist is always best if you have any questions or concerns.
Treatment of dysphagia may include a change in the texture of food eaten or an increased thickness of fluids consumed, making them easier and safer to swallow. Recent research has found that a third of residents in aged care facilities may be on texture modified diets – from soft meals to minced or pureed options (2).
Our dietitians' tips for eating and drinking when diagnosed with dysphagia
Learn how to thicken supplements, laxatives, alcohol and carbonated beverages
Precise Thick-N INSTANT and the International Dysphagia Diet Standard Initiative
If your speech pathologist/speech therapist has recommended a change in the texture of your food or fluids to help with your dysphagia, then Precise is here to help!
Precise Thick-N INSTANT is a liquid thickener that provides a quick and accurate way to thicken beverages. Conveniently, Precise Thick-N INSTANT is vegetarian/vegan, halal, gluten-free, lactose-free and nut-free.
Our Precise range meets the International Diet Dysphagia Standardisation Initiative (IDDSI) guidelines. Supported by dietitians and speech pathologists, we have used specific tests to ensure our products and instructions/recipes promote the safer swallowing of food and fluids to ensure you stay well-nourished and hydrated.