Dysphagia (swallowing problems)
4th May to 31st Dec
The NACC provides advice on Texture Descriptors
Managing Dysphagia is of increasing importance for care operators, the provision of the correct texture modified diet, appropriate to each individual service user, is vital for the avoidance of risk.
Dysphagia: What Is It?
Dysphagia is defined as difficulty in swallowing solids or liquids, or both. Affecting approximately 20% of the over 55 population, swallowing issues are on the increase as the proportion of the population of advanced age is growing. In particular, the instances of dysphagia are rising rapidly in elderly care environments, due to increased dependency levels and better survival rates following strokes. However,the condition affects individuals of every age and contributes to reduced dietary intake, dehydration and malnutrition. Other consequences may include aspiration and asphyxiation.
Aspiration means food or fluids flowing into the trachea (and lungs) instead of going into the digestive system causing the patient to be at risk of chest infection and choking.
Signs of Dysphagia
- coughing or choking when eating or drinking
- bringing food back up, sometimes through the nose
- a sensation that food is stuck in your throat or chest
- persistent drooling of saliva
- reluctance to eat, avoidance of fluids
Over time, dysphagia can also cause symptoms such as weight loss and repeated chest infections.
What Do Care Operators Need To Provide?
It is vital that Care Operators are familiar with the texture descriptors and t is envisaged that all care settings should have 2 available textures:
Texture C (Thick Purée Dysphagia Diet) and
Texture E (Fork Mashable Dysphagia Diet)
Additionally it is recommended that
Texture D (Pre-mashed Dysphagia Diet) may be required routinely in some care settings
Texture B (Thin Purée Dysphagia Diet) may also be required.
Individual patients may require a variation to these textures – this will be prescribed on an individual basis following assessment
Low self esteem and depression can be an outcome of dysphagia. Care operators should make their catering teams aware of the aids for those with swallowing issues and should use blenders, moulds and thickening products appropriately to ensure dignity in eating and continued interest in food.