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Swallowing Disorders

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Swallowing Disorders

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This course is not approved by the California Department of Social Services (CDSS). For courses that are approved to meet the CDSS certification or recertification requirements, please click here.

As the human body ages, normal wear and tear causes systems to slow down and deteriorate, including, to a certain extent, the process of swallowing. Swallowing, however, that is painful, causes coughing or is difficult is not the normal wear and tear of aging. There are two swallowing disorders common in the elder population, oropharyngeal dysphagia and esophageal dysphagia. Both swallowing disorders can affect the quality of life of our residents by causing a decline in their health and their enjoyment of a basic human function – eating.

Course Information:
  • Online Training Course
  • Credit Hours: 1
  • Mechanics of Normal Swallowing
  • Types of Dysphagia
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This Training course is delivered 100% online through our Online Campus. In order to enroll you in a course we will need to collect your First Name, Last Name and Email Address.

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This Training course is delivered 100% online through our Online Campus. If you are purchasing for others or your employees, please make sure to provide the First Name, Last Name, and Email Address of the person who you are purchasing for.

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The course(s) you purchase will be available within 10 minutes of purchase and each person’s login information will be sent to the email address you provide.

Swallowing Disorders Info:

Course Objectives

    By the end of this course, participants will be able to:
  • 1. Describe the mechanics of normal swallowing.
  • 2. Differentiate between normal swallowing and dysphagia.
  • 3. Describe the two different types of dysphagia.
  • 4. Define oropharyngeal dysphagia.
  • 5. Define esophageal dysphagia.
  • 6. Describe the most common signs and symptoms of dysphagia.
  • 7. Discuss methods to enhance safety for those with dysphagia.

Course Outcomes

Hour One:
  • I. Normal Swallowing
  • a. Food is chewed and mixed with saliva to form a soft bolus (ball) with the assistance of the tongue and palate;
  • b. The tongue pushes the bolus to the back of the mouth where the muscles relax to allow the bolus to be contained until voluntary swallowing occurs (which is within seconds);
  • c. Once voluntary swallowing is initiated, muscles push the bolus into the throat and involuntary muscle movements take over;
  • d. From there, the esophagus moves the bolus down through a series of involuntary muscle contractions to the stomach.
  • II. Swallowing Disorders
  • A. Oropharyngeal Dysphagia is defined as any problem with the swallowing process occurring in the mouth and throat, not including dental problems.
  • 1. Nerve diseases and nerve damage caused by a stroke, head or spinal cord injury, Parkinson’s Disease and MS.
  • 2. Muscle problems such as myasthenia gravis and dermatomyositis.
  • 3. Tumors in the mouth and throat which cause a physical obstruction to the movement of food (could be benign or cancerous).
  • 4. Alzheimer’s Diasease and other neurodegenerative diseases, such as ALS.
  • B. Esophageal Dysphagia is defined as a swallowing problem usually accompanied by regurgitation; sometimes the movement of food is obstructed in any way during the swallowing process.
  • 1. Motility problems involving the muscles and nerves supplying the flexibility of the esophagus; esophageal spasm, severe esophagitis, scleroderma.
  • 2. Obstructions in the esophagus such as tumors, esophageal rings, strictures, scar tissue and foreign bodies.
  • 3. External compression on the esophagus caused by a tumor, aortic aneurysm, or enlarged thyroid gland.
  • 4. Alzheimer’s Disease and other neurodegenerative diseases.
  • III. Signs and Symptoms of the two swallowing disorders:
  • A. S/S of Oropharyngeal Dysphagia:
  • 1. coughing or choking with swallowing;
  • 2. difficulty initiating swallowing;
  • 3. food sticking in the throat;
  • 4. drooling;
  • 5. unexplained weight loss;
  • 6. change in dietary habits;
  • 7. recurrent pneumonia;
  • 8. change in voice.
  • B. S/S of Esophageal Dysphagia:
  • 1. feeling of food sticking in the chest;
  • 2. regurgitation;
  • 3. drooling;
  • 4. food sticking in the throat;
  • 5. unexplained weight loss;
  • 6. change in dietary habits;
  • 7. recurrent pneumonia.
  • IV. Evaluation and Treatment
  • A. Physical examination by a physician of the oral motor and swallowing mechanism, including testing the gag reflex.
  • B. Examination by a speech therapist; swallow study to determine the amount of fluid retained with swallowing and possible delayed cough response.
  • C. Diagnostic studies such as barium swallow, endoscopy, impedance and pH test.
  • D. Medication treatment usually includes anti-reflux and/or acid reducing medications.
  • E. Dietary modifications may include thin or thickened liquids, smaller bites, chewing thoroughly, swallowing more than once, eating slowly, plenty of fluids, sit upright to eat and remain upright for at least 20 minutes after eating, tilt head slightly forward.
  • V. Warning: It is really important not to confuse swallowing difficulties with choking. Choking occurs when food or liquid lodges in the airway or in the esophagus, blocking the airway. If choking occurs, the resident cannot breathe and the food must be dislodged.
  • VI. Conclusion: Swallowing involves numerous muscular contractions throughout the mouth and esophagus. With so much involved in the act of swallowing, any number of medical conditions could cause dysphagia, and it isn’t surprising that something occasionally misfires, especially is a resident is swallowing a large mouthful or talking while eating. If you notice the signs and symptoms of dysphagia in your residents, refer them to their physician for the first step in getting them treatment. And always watch them closely for choking.

  • Instructor: Josh Allen, RN

    Josh Allen is a Registered Nurse with over 20 years of experience in senior living. As the Director of InTouch at Home, Josh oversees all aspects of business development, care, services, and operations for the organization. As a part of the SRG Senior Living family of companies, InTouch at Home delivers personalized care and services to clients living in senior living communities as well as private residences across three states.

    Josh also serves on the board of the American Assisted Living Nurses Association, and represents AALNA on the boards of the Center for Excellence in Assisted Living and Coalition of Geriatric Nursing Organizations. Josh has previously served as President and CEO of Care and Compliance Group, a leading training solutions provider.

    Additional Information

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    Course Type Online Course

    Swallowing Disorders