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What is it?

Dysphagia is the difficulty in swallowing  which can affect people of any age. It may involve only solid foods, or also semi-liquid or liquid.  Normal swallowing implies the coordinated and synchronised participation of the oropharyngeal, laryngeal and oesophageal musculature. Swallowing of the food bolus occurs about 150 times in 24 hours while unconscious swallowing of saliva occurs every 30 seconds during wakefulness and every minute in sleep, i.e. about 1600-2000 times in 24 hours. The symptoms that should lead to the suspicion of dysphagia are:

  • the appearance of several  involuntary coughing fits within 2-3 minutes of swallowing a mouthful;
  • the appearance of a veiled or gurgling voice after swallowing the mouthful;
  •  spillage of liquids or cibospan,  from the nose;
  • the presence of a thermal  rise   with no obvious cause;
  • the increase in salivation;
  • the presence of catarrh.

The causes of dysphagia may be obstructive, i.e. a reduction in the lumen of the upper digestive tract (oesophagus in particular), or motoric. The first category includes the presence of foreign bodies, stenosis, tumours, diverticula, inflammation, enlarged thyroid gland, cervical spondylitis. The second group includes functional outcomes of systemic diseases, such as polymyositis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or scleroderma, and oesophageal diseases such as achalasia, diffuse oesophageal spasm, or idiopathic oesophageal dyskinesias. Other causes can be neurological, such as paralysis of the tongue muscles, or polio, or neuromuscular, such as myopathy and myasthenia.


On the basis of the clinical and instrumental assessment, a treatment plan is set up consisting of:

  • compensation techniques;
  • change in the volume, consistency and viscosity of food;
  • changes in diet;
  • swallowing manoeuvres;
  • sensory stimulation techniques;
  • exercises to increase the contraction of muscle mass.

If dysphagia persists for very long periods of time the risk that a state of malnutrition will set in is quite high: to cover energy and nutritional needs,supplementation and nutritional supplementation can be considered .

Information sites

Italian Dysphagia Study Group: www.gisd-disfagia.it

Foodar Solutions

FOODAR products for malnutrition and dysphagia, such as powdered thickeners and gelled waters, guarantee the correct nutritional and water intake in complete safety.