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Dysphagia - Part II

How dysphagia is diagnosed?

A dysphagia diagnosis is typically evaluated through a swallow test administered by a speech pathologist. In this type of test, your older adult will swallow a contrast solution (made of barium) and then be continually x-rayed while swallowing liquids of different consistencies – water (thin), nectar thick, honey thick, and pudding (spoon) thick.

If additional tests are needed, they may include a visual examination of your older adult’s esophagus, an endoscopic swallowing evaluation, an esophageal muscle test, or further imaging scans. The x-ray swallow test is looking for aspiration, where liquid is swallowed and goes down into the lungs instead of the stomach. Aspiration typically causes pneumonia or other serious conditions.

If aspiration is happening, doctors will make recommendations for managing dysphagia with a diet consisting of thickened liquids and pureed foods. When it comes to caring for someone with dysphagia, there are 7 key things for caregivers to keep in mind.

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