Swallowing Problems and Speech Pathology

Swallowing Problems and Speech Pathology


As well as working with people with communication difficulties, speech pathologists work with people who have difficulties swallowing, eating and drinking. The term we use for this is ‘dysphagia’.

Swallowing difficulties can be the result of neurological conditions like stroke, traumatic brain injury or progressive neurological conditions such as motor neurone disease, Huntington’s disease and Parkinson’s. it can also result from disabilities such as Down syndrome or cerebral palsy. 

Swallowing difficulties can mean that people have difficulty eating or drinking enough, placing them at risk or poor nutrition and dehydration. People can also experience coughing when eating or drinking which can put them at risk of choking or getting chest infections (pneumonia). Difficulties swallowing can also lead to reduced enjoyment of food or fluids and stress during mealtimes.

Some of the signs of a swallowing difficulty can include:

Slow eating or drinking

  • Slow eating or drinking
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Difficulty clearing the mouth or having food remaining in the mouth after meals
  • Coughing when eating or drinking
  • A gurgly voice after eating or drinking
  • Recurrent chest infections or pneumonia
  • Weight loss or dehydration

If you think you may have a swallowing difficulty, speak to a speech pathologist who can conduct an assessment or complete a mealtime management plan. Swallowing difficulties can be managed through a range of methods to increase hydration and nutrition and reduce the risks associated.

Rehab Solutions Adelaide Team