Leigh Hester, M.Ed., CCC-SLP
Endoscopy Services Manager
Since March 20, 2020, each full-time and part-time Endoscopist has been placed in a facility that needed additional primary speech-language pathology coverage due to restrictions on travel between facilities. Several facilities currently have a Restore SLP/Endoscopist on-site providing primary SLP services. We very much appreciate the Endoscopy Services Team for stepping up to provide additional resources during the COVID-19 pandemic!
A swallowing disorder, known as dysphagia, may occur as a result of various medical conditions including Stroke, Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s Disease, Cancer, or other reasons. Dysphagia can involve the mouth, throat, and/ or esophagus. Dysphagia can occur at any age; however, is more common as we get older.
Malnutrition and dehydration, aspiration pneumonia, compromised general health, chronic lung disease, choking, and even death may be a consequence of dysphagia. Adults with dysphagia may also experience (a) disinterest and/or less enjoyment of eating or drinking and/or (b) embarrassment or isolation in social situations involving eating. Dysphagia may increase caregiver burden and may require significant lifestyle alterations for the patient and the patient’s family.
Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) with appropriate training and competence are involved in the evaluation, rehabilitation and management of dysphagia. Instrumental assessments are considered the “gold” standard to evaluate swallow function and assess treatment strategies. Two of the most common forms of instrumental assessment include the Modified Barium Swallow (MBS) Study and Fiberoptic Endoscopic Evaluation of Swallowing (FEES). FEES can be performed by a specially trained SLP in an outpatient clinic, skilled nursing facility, hospital or other settings as appropriate.
FEES is a procedure that involves gently placing a small diameter, flexible, fiberoptic endoscope through the nasal passage in order to view the throat while a person swallows. This procedure provides valuable information regarding the nature of the swallowing problem and potential treatment or compensatory strategies that can help manage or improve the swallow function.
Signs or Symptoms of Dysphagia may include:
- Coughing during or right after eating or drinking
- Food or liquid remaining in the mouth after swallowing
- Drooling or food/liquid leaking from mouth during or after swallowing
- Complaints of difficulty swallowing, foods or pills sticking in throat or in chest
- Pain with swallowing
- Wet-sounding voice during or after eating or drinking
- Difficulty coordinating breathing and swallowing
- Recurrent episodes of pneumonia/respiratory infection/exacerbations of COPD
- Changes in eating habits—avoiding certain foods or liquids due to difficulty chewing or swallowing
- Weight loss or dehydration from not being able to eat or drink enough
If you or your loved one is experiencing difficulty swallowing, speech-language pathologists are valuable resources to help guide you in finding evaluation and treatment options.
May is Better Speech and Hearing Month and Restore Outpatient’s focus on Wellness facilitates a better quality of life for its clients. If you have any questions about swallowing, contact us!