Dysphagia hard to swallow

May 14 is the day to promote awareness

Published on May 3, 2014

CHARLOTTETOWN – The action of swallowing is usually second nature, but consider those times when a large pill needed to be swallowed, or perhaps an unfamiliar food, or just when a sore throat makes the action an ordeal. For some people, that feeling is the norm rather than the exception.

Feeding and swallowing disorders, known as dysphagia (dis-FAY-juh), affects people of all ages, from newborns to the elderly. It impacts the entire process of managing food, drinks, and medications, in the mouth and swallowing them safely, according to a news release from the PEI Speech and Hearing Association.

Left untreated, swallowing disorders can have devastating physical and emotional consequences including malnutrition, dehydration, delayed growth and development, airway obstruction, and can lead to social isolation.

Speech-Language and Audiology Canada (SAC) recognizes the second Wednesday in May as “Swallowing Awareness Day”, an effort to promote awareness to the many people who have never heard of dysphagia or have no idea that speech-language pathologists are the professionals who assess and treat these disorders.

Quick Facts

• Studies indicate that dysphagia may afflict 22 per cent of those over 50.

• It is not commonly known that speech-language pathologists provide assessment and treatment.

• Untreated dysphagia can also lead to skin breakdown, improper medication delivery and death.

• Dysphagia can be devastating to quality of life, including social embarrassment, fear of meals and drink, and decreased independence.

• Approximately 55 per cent of people who have had a stroke will have dysphagia

 The PEI Speech and Hearing Association is encouraging celebration of Swallowing Awareness Day by talking about swallowing disorders, and raising awareness about the role of speech-language pathologists in the assessment and treatment of feeding and swallowing disorders.

To learn more about these disorders, contact Jillian Arsenault, CCC-SLP, public relations chair for the PEI Speech and Hearing Association, at 902-894-2099.