Dysphagia refers to a difficulty in swallowing. It can affect people throughout the lifespan, but more frequently it impacts older adults, babies, or persons with neurological deficits.

Dysphagia can occur as the result of a stroke; it can also be caused by aging, central nervous system diseases (such as dementia, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, or myasthenia gravis), gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD), radiation therapy, injury or surgery to the head and neck, cancer, cleft lip and palate, cerebral palsy, prematurity, and developmental delays in children.

Persistent difficulty in the process of swallowing can have a profound impact on a person, mentally and physically. Malnutrition, dehydration, and weight loss can occur when a dysphagia is present.

Managing dysphagia with the expertise of a speech-language pathologist can help people improve dysphagia or utilizing techniques to help compensate for loss of function.