Have your cake but can you eat it? Swallowing Awareness Day 2019

  • The University of Sheffield will host an interactive event to provide a taste of life with swallowing problems
  • Swallowing Awareness Day is promoted by the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists as part of Nutrition and Hydration Week
  • The event aims to raise awareness of the common symptoms of swallowing problems and the help speech and language therapists can provide

The Medical School

Imagine drinking a cup of tea that has the consistency of a yoghurt, or a steak that has been blended into a puree. It’s something that doesn’t sound very appealing but for adults and children with dysphagia, thinking about how their food and drinks can be modified is something that has to be planned daily.

What is dysphagia? Dysphagia describes eating, drinking and swallowing difficulties. Dysphagia can have a huge effect on the daily life of individuals as they may have to add a thickener to their drinks, modify their meals or receive food and drinks via non-oral means, such as a feeding tube into the stomach.

Dr Lucy Dyson, a Speech and Language Therapist, and students from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Human Communication Sciences and Clinical Dentistry, will be hosting a Dysphagia Awareness event on 13 March 2019 at the University’s Medical School.

Dr Lucy Dyson, from the University’s Department of Human Communication Sciences, said: “Dysphagia can have a huge effect on individuals’ quality of life and mental health, affecting many aspects of their daily life.

“So many social occasions revolve around food and drink, going out for a coffee with a friend, family mealtimes or celebrating with a champagne toast. People with dysphagia have to think about how they’ll be able to eat or drink at these events, and sometimes avoid them entirely.”

The aim of the event, promoted by the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists as part of Nutrition and Hydration week, is to raise awareness of the symptoms of dysphagia and the help that can be provided by speech and language therapists. Improved awareness in the general public and healthcare professionals can help with early indication and appropriate care for people with dysphagia.

Dysphagia can occur in children and adults as part of a range of conditions. It affects 95 per cent of people with Motor Neurone Disease, 80 per cent of people with Parkinson’s disease, 68 per cent of people with dementia in care homes and 40 per cent of infants who are born prematurely.

Common symptoms to look out for can include coughing or choking when eating or drinking, recurrent chest infections or difficulty chewing food. A simple referral from a GP to a speech and language therapy service can lead to assessment and diagnosis, and speech and language therapists can then support individuals to manage the condition.

The role of speech and language therapists is vital when working with people with dysphagia. If swallowing difficulties are not identified, they can result in chest infection or pneumonia from fluid, food or secretions entering the lungs.

Fifteen per cent of hospital admissions of people with dementia could be prevented by earlier speech and language therapy interventions, and for every £1 invested in speech and language therapy for stroke survivors, the NHS saves £2.30 through avoided cases of chest infections.

The Department of Human Communications Sciences has an international reputation both in teaching and research. Within the department the Philippa Cottam Communications Clinic operates as a speech and language therapy clinic offering services to both children and adults with communication disabilities.

For more information about Human Communication Sciences, please visit: https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/hcs/index

Additional Information

The University of Sheffield

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For further information please contact:

Emma Griffiths
Media and PR Assistant
The University of Sheffield
0114 222 1034