Clinicians Library

Empowering your patients and carers to navigate dysphagia symptoms

19 February 2024

Clinicians frequently seeing dysphagia patients, know the huge an impact it can have on quality of life.

Timely identification and intervention is crucial for effective care, and it’s important for clinicians to have access to the best resources, so you can support individuals and care settings to spot the signs and symptoms of dysphagia early.

Being able to implement a dysphagia care pathway quickly ensures not only that the negative impact of dysphagia can be limited, but that you are able to provide the best care, support and reassurance for your patients.

Understanding dysphagia symptoms
As dysphagia is a secondary symptom, individuals and carers can be so focused on the primary condition they miss it. Unaware of the early signs and symptoms of dysphagia.

It can be helpful to have resources and information available that you can share with families and care settings. Common dysphagia symptoms that it’s useful for care settings to be aware of include:

  1. Choking or coughing during meals: If a patient or their carer notices persistent choking or coughing while the patient is eating or drinking, this could be a sign of dysphagia.
  2. Frequent throat clearing: Repeated attempts to clear the throat, especially after swallowing, can signal the onset of dysphagia.
  3. Weight loss or malnutrition: Unexpected weight loss or malnutrition can result from the difficulty to swallow, which can mean a patient isn’t getting enough calories and nutrients.
  4. Gurgly voice after eating or drinking: A noticeable change in voice quality after meals can be a symptom of dysphagia, indicating potential aspiration.
  5. Pocketing food in the cheeks: A hesitation or inability to swallow food can lead to individuals holding it inside their cheeks instead.
  6. Complaints of a lump in the throat: Patients may report feeling a lump or obstruction in their throat when swallowing.

Early action is essential
You know dysphagia can lead to severe dehydration and malnutrition and that early intervention is essential. That’s why educating individuals and carers around the early signs and symptoms of dysphagia is so important – the sooner they can get in touch with a medical professional, the better.

Of course, as a clinician, you know that the pathway for dysphagia patients includes early referral to speech and language therapy services but, again, few individuals and carers are aware of the pivotal role SLTs play in assessing and managing dysphagia.

It will often be useful to communicate with patients around how SLTs can provide valuable expertise and lots of practical support and guidance. Helping them enhance swallowing function and safety and ultimately helping them regain their swallowing confidence.

Enhancing dysphagia care with thickened drinks
A key part of implementing an effective care plan is prescribing drink thickeners and oral nutritional supplements that your patients will be happy to use.

Patient enjoyment is central to the efficacy of any thickened drink. If they don’t like the taste or the texture, they are less likely to use it, and over time they may become dehydrated and malnourished. Traditional tinned powdered thickeners can often fall short in terms of patient enjoyment, however, and pre-thickened ONS’s offer limited choice.

Slõ enjoyment for those with swallowing difficulties
At Slõ, we have developed a range of easy ways to make safe and enjoyable thickened drinks that flow slow.

That starts by removing the most difficult part – measuring the correct amount of thickener. We provide pre-measured doses of thickener leaving the person making the drink to mix it into the volume of liquid we advise.

Slõ Milkshakes+ ONS are presented in handy pre-measured sachets that your patients or their carers can mix with whole milk to the appropriate IDDSI Level (1-3). Available in strawberry, chocolate and banana flavours, and packed with essential nutrients – including protein and 25 essential vitamins and minerals – providing as many calories as a small meal.

Slõ Syrup our latest way to thicken in drinks, it a liquid thickener concentrate. Designed to overcome all the issues with scooping thickener from tins, you just add 1, 2 or 3 pumps to 200mls and stir!

We can also help your patients make Slõ Wine, Beer and Fizzy drinks.

All are lump free and smooth, look and taste as good as ordinary drinks – they are just safer to swallow.

Your partner in dysphagia care
We know the challenges you face in ensuring dysphagia patients are able to access support and resources early, as well as ensuring they can have the best solutions for their needs quickly.

We’re here to support your clinical practice and ensure your patients not only have all the information they need to identify and manage their condition at home, but that there is always a great-tasting thickened drink option that helps them regain their swallowing confidence.

For more information, or to begin offering your patients a Slõ flowing solution, you can order samples of Slõ Milkshake+ and find a data sheet with a full nutritional breakdown here:

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