Adults can experience swallowing disorders for a variety of reasons, such as a stroke, head injury or head and neck cancer or surgery. Impairments can also be caused by medical conditions, progressive neurological diseases (eg. Parkinsons disease, multiple sclerosis) and typical ageing.

Individuals may experience difficulty chewing and swallowing some or all types of food or fluids due to muscle weakness or incoordination. Symptoms may include:

  • Poor ability to chew food
  • Becoming short of breath when eating or drinking
  • Coughing, spluttering or throat clearing when attempting to swallow
  • Swallowing several times to clear food from mouth and throat
  • A sensation of food being stuck in the throat or chest
  • A feeling of food or drink “going down the wrong way”
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Recurrent chest infections

Swallowing problems put individuals at risk of choking, poor nutrition, dehydration and pneumonia. Eating and drinking can become uncomfortable, stressful and frustrating. Individuals may also feel embarrassed when in front of friends and family, which can lead to anxiety and social isolation.

If you or a family member are experiencing any swallowing difficulties, contact Box Hill Speech Pathology to book an appointment with Nicola Anglin. She will assess your swallowing and work with you to manage the disorder. She may suggest diet modifications or teach you strategies to ensure you can eat and drink safely and comfortably. In some cases, further tests may be recommended to analyse the cause of the swallowing problem.