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  • Writer's pictureEngage PT, OT, SLP Therapy and Wellness

Signs and Symptoms of Dysphagia

Updated: Jun 18, 2023


Man coughing

Eating and drinking has been an automatic task since we were all infants. Although you probably don’t think much about what your body is doing when you are chewing and swallowing, it is actually a very complex task that involves many muscles and nerves. If something disrupts one or more muscles or nerves, this could change the way you chew or swallow and may impact the safety and efficiency of eating and drinking. This is called dysphagia.


Below are some signs or symptoms that may indicate chewing and/or swallowing difficulties:


  • Coughing during or right after eating or drinking

  • Wet or gurgly sounding voice during or after eating or drinking

  • Extra effort or time needed to chew or swallow

  • Food or liquid leaking from the mouth or getting stuck in the mouth

  • Recurring pneumonia or chest congestion after eating

  • Weight loss or dehydration from not being able to eat enough

  • Avoiding drinking liquids

  • Sensation of food being stuck in the throat

  • Excessive drooling

  • Food collecting around my gum line

  • Frequent heartburn or a sore throat


It is normal to occasionally have some of the above symptoms or occasional difficulty swallowing certain foods or liquids, such as when taking large bites of food. However, ongoing difficulty swallowing could be a cause for concern. Swallowing difficulties may affect your quality of life and overall health.


How Speech Therapy can help with swallowing difficulties:


Speech-Language Pathologists (SLP) are qualified to help people who are experiencing problems with eating and drinking. During treatment, a Speech-Language Pathologist may recommend:

  • A referral to a gastroenterologist (GI) or Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) doctor for further testing if needed to determine the cause of swallowing difficulties.

  • Further testing like a swallowing x-ray or a transnasal scope with a camera on the end to assess swallowing.

  • Swallowing exercises focusing on retraining the muscles to improve muscle movement and to reduce the risk of choking and aspiration (food and liquid entering into the lungs).

  • Strategies to support effective chewing and swallowing.

  • Food and liquid textures that are easier, safer and more comfortable to swallow.


Do you have concerns about swallowing difficulties? Speech therapists at Engage Therapy can help! Call 315-810-2423 or email info@brainbodybetter.com to schedule an evaluation.

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