All About Nursing · Hospice & Palliative Care


Dysphagia is characterized by difficulty swallowing solids and /or liquids and may arise from a variety of underlying conditions, including cognitive impairment, weakness, mechanical obstruction, and incoordination. Presenting symptoms may include prolonged meal times, avoidance of certain foods/liquids, new head or body movements during meals, voice changes with eating, coughing, choking, or unexplained weight loss. Dysphagia place the patient at increased risk for aspiration and malnutrition.

Common in malignancies of the brain, head and neck, and upper GI/pulmonary tract; neurologic disorders such as brain stem pathology, ALS, Parkinson’s disease, MS, dementia, stroke, coma, and conditions with heavy bronchial secretions. Dysphagia is a major risk factor for aspiration pneumonitis, malnutrition, and death. And 40%of those who aspirate, do so silently.

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