For Patients

What is dysphagia?

Dysphagia means that you are having trouble swallowing. Dysphagia is not a disease but rather a symptom of a disease. Dysphagia can be caused by many things including stroke, Parkinson’s, respiratory disease, muscle disease, just to name a few. Dysphagia may also result from aging and sedentary lifestyle.

I have a swallow problem. What next?

Your primary care physician may refer you to a medical specialist depending on the anticipated cause of the dysphagia. For example, if the swallow problem is due to a stroke, you may be referred to a neurologist who cares for individuals who suffered a stroke. You may also be referred to a speech pathologist, the professional focused on the assessment and behavioral treatment of swallowing disorders.

How do I find and evaluate the competence of a dysphagia therapist?

It is likely that in your community, the speech pathologist with a specialty in evaluation and treatment of swallowing disorders is known by the physicians and other speech pathologists. There is also specialty certification.