A real swallowing difficulty is not when someone makes you laugh and you snort drink up your nose, cough and splutter. For some, who have real swalowing difficulties related to muscle tone issues or neurological changes, these can present as very real risks to their health. Food and drink entering the airway falling into warm moist lungs can lead to chronic chest infections and cause potentially even more significant impacts with aspiration pneumonia.
To understand the causes of swallowing difficulties, you first need to understand the steps for swallowing. You swallow up to 1.5 litres of your own saliva a day, so you are doing this unconsciously all day long.
Swallowing difficulties in young children are more commonly related to anatomical or physiological development affecting timing and strength of the muscles involved. This is different from feeding issues which is to do with the behaviours aorund foods and textures. At tinmes this can be hard to discern the difference and you will need a specialist speech pathologost to guide you. Adult swallowing difficulties are more commonbly associated with neurological conditions such as MND, MS or a stroke. A swallowing disorder is also called dysphagia.
At Talkshop Speech Pathology we work with adults and children with swallowing and feeding issues. Read here for more information about how we assess and treat feeding and swallowing concerns in children.