Introduction To The Dysphagia Diet

By Joyce Wagner

Dysphagia is a term that is used to describe the difficulty in chewing and swallowing. It is usually found in patients that have a disease or dysfunction in any area of the swallowing system. When a patient is suspected to have problems swallowing and it is noted that he or she chokes when eating, the patient needs be tested for dysphagia. Any patient who is also believed to be at risk also needs to be screened. If the patient is found to be at risk, he or she needs to be put on a dysphagia diet to avoid any impairments when swallowing.

Before any assessment of the condition is done on a patient, some steps need to be taken. The condition of the patient needs to be ideal for results to give an accurate assessment. The patient needs to be conscious, seated in a good posture and the oral motor function should be right. He or she should also be in a position to cooperate with the assessor. Once the patient is ready, the assessment can be done. It is important that the patient's ability to swallow liquids and solids is assessed separately. If no difficulty is experienced by the patient, he or she can receive a normal diet with close monitoring of their respiratory and oral intake.

Some of the expected signs that are expected during the assessment include, coughing, choking, loss of breath, leakage from the mouth and a poor voice quality after swallowing. These are fairly common signs for patients with the condition. It is possible however for patients to develop the condition without showing any of these signs. This makes the condition difficult to detect.

The condition is usually common with recent stroke patients. When left undetected, other risks can complicate a patient's condition such as malnutrition, pneumonia, and persistent disability. The patient can also have a prolonged stay at the hospital. In the extreme cases, death can result.

It is important that the patient's risk of this condition is assessed and determined by qualified personnel. This is to ensure that the right assessment is done. Nurses or any other caregivers can then be advised and given instructions as to the precautions they should take and the diet to follow.

Any observations and the final result needs to be documented on the patient's chart. The personnel should also recommend the diet that should be followed and other things that can help improve the patient's condition. These can vary from the amount to be given to the posture the patient should have during the meal.

The diet aims at providing the patients with foods that they can eat and swallow without any difficulty. The patients then get the required nutrient intake and this helps them get better quickly. Any complication from food intolerance is avoided.

The diet is divided into five stages. In each stage, a particular food texture is described according to the severity of the condition. The first stage includes foods that have a pudding consistency and texture. The second stage has foods that are minced into sesame seeds sizes. In the third stage, grounded foods are given. These are foods that are the size of rice. The fourth stage describes foods that are in the size of small bread cubes and the final stage has normal soft and moist foods with the regular texture.

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