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  • Joanne Distilo-Shannon

They said I have Dysphagia. Now what?

So you or a loved one were recently hospitalized with aspiration pneumonia (pneumonia caused by what you are eating and/or drinking). They called the cause of your aspiration pneumonia, Dysphagia. You have never heard this term before, and as a result, you are left with many questions. How did this happen? Where did this come from? A better question is how do I manage this at home? The good news is, you can handle this with some help and guidance from a skilled Speech-Language Pathologist.

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Let’s break it down. How did this happen? Dysphagia can occur due to a neurological event like stroke or an advancing neurological disease like Parkinson’s. Dysphagia can also come about as a part of normal aging. No matter the reason, you still need education and support to keep your lungs safe and stay out of the hospital.

A Speech-Language Pathologist, who specializes in swallowing, can help in educating you on your specific dysphagia. They may also provide skilled therapy for strengthening weaker muscles, developing compensatory strategies or recommending further tests as appropriate. The overall goal is to safely enjoy the least restrictive diet possible.

Dysphagia impacts people differently. Each case is specific and unique to that person. A comprehensive swallowing evaluation should be performed to determine what kind of dysphagia the person is demonstrating, and what their specific plan of care should entail. If you have concerns about your swallowing or the swallowing of someone you love. Contact your physician for a referral to a Speech-Language Pathologist.


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Speech and Language Pathologists (SLP's) specialize in treating individuals with difficulties in communication and swallowing disorders. Difficulties in communication can range from traditional speech