Long-Term Care

Trainer’s tip: Recognizing the signs and symptoms of dysphagia

LTC Nursing Assistant Trainer, January 27, 2011

If a resident experiences any of the below signs or symptoms, consultation with a speech-language pathologist is needed. He or she will perform diagnostic tests, such as a modified barium swallow. Dysphagia may be treated with a combination of swallowing exercises and techniques and by altering the consistency of food and beverages. The signs and symptoms of dysphagia include:

  • Difficulty controlling liquids and secretions in the mouth
  • Having a wet or gurgly sounding voice
  • Taking a long time to begin a swallow or frequent throat clearing
  • Lack of a gag reflex
  • Weak cough before, during, or after a swallow
  • Pocketing food or needing to swallow three to four times for each bite of food
  • A feeling of fullness or tightness in the throat or chest
  • A sensation of food sticking in esophagus or sterna area
  • Coughing
  • Spitting food out or refusing to eat
  • Recurrent upper respiratory infections
  • Persistent low-grade fever
  • Unintentional weight loss

This is an excerpt from the HCPro book, The Long-Term Care Nursing Desk Reference, Second Edition, by Barbara Acello, MS, RN.

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