Adult Speech Therapy For Dysphagia

Adults Speech Therapy For Dysphagia | Voz Speech Therapy Services Bilingual Speech Therapist Clinic Washington DC

At our speech therapy clinic, we frequently help clients navigate various feeding and swallowing conditions.

But what exactly causes these difficulties?

Feeding and swallowing impairments are associated with a wide variety of disorders.

Dysphagia is a common example.

In fact, dysphagia is a common cause of concern for people seeking adult speech therapy services.

Speech therapists are trained professionals skilled at helping people with dysphagia manage their symptoms.

A speech therapist can show you a variety of lifestyle changes aimed at mitigating these risks.

If you or a loved one is living with dysphagia, keep reading to find out more about some speech therapist approved lifestyle changes you can make to improve your overall health.

What Is Adult Dysphagia?

Adult dysphagia is a type of swallowing disorder.

Your swallowing ability relies on the coordinated effort of a variety of muscles and nerves, such as your:

Therefore, any condition impacting these muscles can potentially lead to adult dysphagia.

Adult dysphagia may occur in people of all ages.

However, it’s significantly more common in older adults.

People with dysphagia experience significant swallowing difficulties.

In some cases, swallowing becomes impossible.

Adult dysphagia can also lead to a variety of additional symptoms and complications.

These include:

  • Reduced interest in eating or drinking
  • Embarrassment or isolation surrounding eating or drinking
  • Painful swallowing
  • Experiencing a sensation of stuck food in your throat, chest, or behind your breastbone
  • Drooling
  • Hoarse speech
  • Regurgitation
  • Chronic heartburn
  • Stomach acid rising to your throat
  • Weight loss
  • Swallowing accompanied by coughing or gagging

Dysphagia is commonly sorted into one of two subtypes: esophageal dysphagia and oropharyngeal dysphagia.

Next, we’ll explore each subtype in closer detail.

1. Esophageal Dysphagia

People with esophageal dysphagia often report feeling food stuck in the base of their throat.

They may also experience this sensation in their chest.

As a result, people diagnosed with esophageal dysphagia frequently develop feeding and swallowing impairments.

Causes Of Esophageal Dysphagia

Many potential factors can contribute to the development of esophageal dysphagia.

Examples include:

  • Nerve or muscle damage surrounding your esophagus (achalasia)
  • Impaired esophagus contractions following swallowing (esophageal spasm)
  • A narrowed esophagus (stricture)
  • Esophageal tumors
  • Foreign bodies, such as small fish or chicken bones
  • Narrowing of the lower esophagus (esophageal ring)
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Immune system impairments, such as eosinophilic esophagitis
  • Scar tissue formation located in the lower esophageal sphincter (scleroderma)
  • Radiation therapy for cancer

At Voz Speech Therapy, we can help determine the potential cause(s) of your esophageal dysphagia.

2. Oropharyngeal Dysphagia

Oropharyngeal dysphagia weakens your throat muscles.

Subsequently, people with this condition experience significant difficulty moving food from their mouth into their throat and esophagus.

Choking, gagging, or coughing may occur while swallowing.

Many people also report feeling food and liquids going down their windpipe and trachea.

Without intervention, oropharyngeal dysphagia can lead to pneumonia.

Causes Of Oropharyngeal Dysphagia

Some of the causes for oropharyngeal dysphagia include:

A speech therapist at Voz Speech Therapy can also help determine the potential causes of oropharyngeal dysphagia.

Contact us to find out more.

How Common Is Adult Dysphagia?

Adult dysphagia is a common feature amongst a wide range of diseases and conditions.

Examples include:

  • Sarcopenia
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Endotracheal intubation
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Head and neck cancer
  • Intellectual disabilities
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Sjogren’s syndrome
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Vocal ford immobility
  • Whiplash

For this reason, determining its precise prevalence is a difficult task.

However, an average of 25% of American adults will experience some form of swallowing impairment within their lifetime.

Adult dysphagia is more common in older adults.

Approximately 22% of hospital inpatients aged 50 or older are living with adult dysphagia.+

What Is Adult Dysphagia? | Voz Speech Therapy Services Bilingual Speech Therapist Clinic Washington DC

Speech Therapy For Adults With Dysphagia

Speech therapists work collaboratively a team of healthcare practitioners to help adults living with dysphagia.

Below, we’ll explore some of the most common speech therapy solutions for adult dysphagia.

1. Modifying Your Diet

Many speech therapists recommend smaller, more frequent meals for adults with dysphagia.

This strategy also recommends cutting your food into smaller pieces, making sure you chew your food enough before swallowing, and eating slowly and mindfully.

Your speech therapist may also recommend products that’ll thicken the liquids you consume.

This is because thin liquids, such as water, milk, and tea, typically worsen dysphagia symptoms.

Sticky foods, such as peanut butter or caramel, are another common trigger.

Finally, a speech therapist may advise you to limit your consumption of liquids that cause dry mouth and throat, such as alcohol and caffeine.

2. Swallowing Exercises

Speech therapy swallowing exercises are another effective intervention for adult dysphagia.

These exercises target a variety of body parts, including your:

  • Lips
  • Jaw
  • Tongue
  • Soft palate
  • Pharynx
  • Larynx
  • Respiratory muscles

Let’s look at some specific examples:

1. Laryngeal Elevation

Laryngeal elevation exercises engage your throat muscles and lift your larynx in an elevated position.

Singing in a high note can help you achieve this position.

This exercise helps improve your laryngeal strength and mobility and subsequently improves swallowing.

2. Shaker Exercise

The shaker exercise requires you to lay on your back and slowly lift your head to look at your toes.

This movement helps widen the opening of your upper esophageal sphincter and engages your suprahyoid muscles.

3. Posture Changes

Posture plays an important role in swallowing difficulties such as dysphagia.

Certain postural techniques can help facilitate movement of food and liquids through your oral cavity and pharynx.

Posture changes are particularly helpful for dysphagia associated with neurological impairments and structural damage.

Some examples of posture changes include:

1. Chin Down And Chin Up Postures

Chin down posture requires you to tuck your chin towards your neck while swallowing.

This maneuver aids swallowing by bringing your tongue forward, narrowing your airway, and widening your vallecular space.

Chin up posture is another option.

Chin up posture requires you to tilt your head up while swallowing.

This movement helps your foods and liquids travel down your oral cavity.

2. Head Rotation

Your speech therapist might recommend head rotation if one side of your neck or pharynx is weaker than the other.

This maneuver requires you to turn your head towards your weaker side while swallowing.

This exercise guides chewed foods and liquids to your pharynx’s stronger lateral channels.

4. Other Options

Speech therapists utilize a wide variety of strategies for their clients with adult dysphagia.

Examples include:

  • Pacing and feeding strategies
  • Prosthetics
  • Sensory stimulation
  • Electrical stimulation
  • Salivary management
  • Tube feeding

A Voz speech therapist can help you determine which strategies might work best for your specific needs.

Book Your Appointment With Voz Speech Therapy Today

At Voz Speech Therapy, we’re committed to helping you navigate your feeding and swallowing difficulties.

If you or a loved one are living with adult dysphagia, we can help.

Our expert staff are friendly, compassionate, and most of all knowledgeable in all sorts of conditions and interventions.

Don’t wait to book your appointment.

Early intervention makes all the difference.

Book your appointment with Voz Speech Therapy today to find out how we can help improve your life and overall wellbeing.

Voz Speech Therapy
1331 H St NW Ste 200,
Washington, DC 20005

(202) 734-4884

Voz Speech Therapy is a pediatric bilingual speech therapy clinic in Washington, DC that provides individualized services based on the specific needs of your or your child. Therapy sessions are provided in English or Spanish, depending on your child’s native language. Voz Speech Therapy es una clínica pediátrica bilingüe de terapia del habla en Washington, DC que brinda servicios individualizados según las necesidades específicas de usted o su hijo. Las sesiones de terapia se brindan en inglés o español, según el idioma nativo de su hijo.

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