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Therapy for Dysphagia: Treatment & Exercises

Sandeep Dhanyamraju MD
Medically reviewed by Sandeep Dhanyamraju
Sandeep Dhanyamraju MD
Medically reviewed by Sandeep Dhanyamraju

Dysphagia – what is it? When you first hear this word, it can be frightening. It sounds like some scary diagnosis from which people no longer live. But don’t be so pessimistic. It’s not as scary as you might think.

So, let’s start with the fact that it is a disease we can characterize as difficulty swallowing. That is, it is difficult for a person to swallow anything. Of course, this can significantly affect a person’s overall quality of life and health. It can have serious consequences if left untreated. Fortunately, there is an effective therapy for dysphagia and improving swallowing function.

This text will look at various options for treating dysphagia, including home treatment. We’ll look at both traditional and innovative approaches for diagnosis and treatment. Join us on this journey. You will explore the world of dysphagia therapy and an improved life experience.

Diagnosis and Assessment of Dysphagia

So, you already know that dysphagia is a condition that affects swallowing problems. Anyone can get this condition for various reasons. And no matter what the cause of your dysphagia is, one thing is important. You need to start treatment for dysphagia as soon as possible.

What are the most important steps in developing an effective treatment plan? Of course, it is an accurate diagnosis and a comprehensive evaluation. Healthcare professionals use a range of diagnostic methods and assessment tools. It is the only way they can determine the specifics and severity of the swallowing disorder. We have prepared some examples for you.

Health professionals can diagnose dysphagia using these and other diagnostic methods accurately. Doctors will be able to determine the underlying causes. They can assess the severity of the swallowing disorder. This information will also serve as the basis for developing a treatment plan. Doctors will carry out targeted therapeutic measures, such as dysphagia exercises. It is the only way to improve your swallowing function and general well-being.

Clinical Evaluation

A speech-language pathologist (SLP) conducts a thorough clinical evaluation. It includes taking a detailed medical history and a physical examination. And make sure the doctor observes your swallowing function. The doctor may assess oral motility and coordination.

Videofluoroscopic Swallow Study (VFSS)

It is also known as a modified barium swallow. It is an imaging study that involves swallowing different foods and liquids. A radiologist and a doctor observe the process using X-rays. This real-time imaging helps to make the therapy for dysphagia clearer.

Fiberoptic Endoscopic Evaluation of Swallowing (FEES)

In this procedure, the doctor inserts a flexible endoscope through the nose. It provides a direct view of the pharynx and larynx during swallowing. It helps to assess the movement and coordination of the structures in swallowing. The doctor can identify potential problems during this examination.

Dysphagia Questionnaires and Scales

Various standardized questionnaires and scales are available to assess the impact of dysphagia on an individual’s quality of life and to measure swallowing-related symptoms and functional limitations. Examples include the Eating Assessment Tool (EAT-10) and the Swallowing Quality-of-Life questionnaire (SWAL-QOL).

Electrical Impedance Tomography (EIT)

It is a fairly new technology that helps with swallowing therapy for dysphagia. It measures the change in conductivity in the throat during swallowing. It provides information about the flow of the saucer in real-time. It can help detect Swallowing Anomalies in a non-invasive way.

the girl treats dysphagia

Multidisciplinary Treatment of Dysphagia

Effective treatment of dysphagia requires a local approach. A multidisciplinary healthcare team must be involved. In this team, we can usually include several types of doctors. They all use their experience to develop dysphagia exercises and other methods. These specialists combine their knowledge and skills. Then they look at the different aspects and provide comprehensive treatment. Here are some key contributors to the interdisciplinary treatment of dysphagia:

  • Speech-Language Pathologists. They play a central role in the assessment and treatment of dysphagia. They assess swallowing function and develop exercises. 
  • Otolaryngologists. These physicians specialize in diseases and disorders of the ear, nose, and throat. They evaluate the structural integrity of the airways. They may perform surgical interventions if necessary.
  • Dietitians. Nutritionists also play a far-reaching role in the therapy for dysphagia. They provide dietary recommendations and develop modified diets. They ensure safe swallowing and adequate nutrition. It is the dietitians who work closely with people. They make individualized meal plans. Therefore, dietitians take into account any specific dietary restrictions of the disease.
  • Occupational therapists. Occupational therapists focus on improving functional abilities. Therapists deal with fine motor skills and other problems.
  • Radiologists. Radiologists contribute to the diagnostic process. They do imaging studies. They interpret these studies to identify structural abnormalities or swallowing dysfunction.
  • Psychologists/consultants. The disease has a significant impact on emotional well-being and quality of life. Psychologists provide support through swallowing therapy for dysphagia. Counselors or psychologists also counsel patients’ families to address psychosocial aspects.The collaboration between these specialists allows for a comprehensive approach to treatment. They work together to eliminate the underlying causes of dysphagia. They monitor the process and make necessary adjustments to the treatment plan. By combining their knowledge and experience, the multidisciplinary team strives to optimize swallowing function. They are committed to improving the quality of life of people with dysphagia.

    the girl treats dysphagia

    Swallowing Exercises for Dysphagia

    Swallowing exercises are an important component of dysphagia therapy. Typically, doctors direct them to improve strength, coordination, and muscle control. Doctors have developed this exercise for a specific swallowing disorder. Therefore, they promote safe and effective swallowing. Below we list some commonly used swallowing exercises for dysphagia.

    It is important to note that a doctor should only prescribe dysphagia exercises. You should also perform this exercise under the guidance of a speech-language pathologist. It is the specialist who evaluates the specific swallowing difficulties. Then they select exercises tailored specifically to your individual needs. Doctors monitor your progress and make any necessary adjustments.

    In addition to these exercises, specialists may recommend other strategies. Combined with other therapeutic measures and dietary changes, exercise plays a vital role. They will help to renew your swallowing ability and improve your quality of life.

    Shaker Exercise

    This exercise primarily focuses on strengthening the neck and throat muscles. A person should lie on their back and raise their head to look at their toes. Do not lift your shoulders off the ground while doing this. Repeat several times to improve the opening of the upper esophageal sphincter.

    Masako Exercise

    This exercise targets tongue-base retraction, which is essential for effective swallowing. The person holds the tip of the tongue between the front teeth. Then he needs to swallow while maintaining this position. This treatment of dysphagia helps to improve swallowing control.

    Effortful Swallow

    This exercise involves swallowing with increased effort and intentional force. A person concentrates on squeezing the muscles used for swallowing. It creates stronger and more coordinated swallowing. This exercise can help improve the strength and coordination of the swallowing muscles.

    Supraglottic Swallow

    This dysphagia exercise is especially helpful for people with poor airway protection. It involves taking a deep breath, holding it, swallowing, and then coughing to clear the throat. This exercise helps improve the closure of the vocal folds and prevent aspiration.

    Dysphagia Home Treatment

    Professional intervention by medical professionals is crucial in therapy for dysphagia. However, there are also several strategies and practices that people can use at home. With dysphagia home treatment, you can maintain swallowing function. Here are some home treatments:

    • Changing your diet. It is the first and most important step in swallow therapy for dysphagia. You must change the texture and consistency of food and liquids. This way, you will make swallowing safer and easier. Make your foods mashed or shredded. But remember, it is important to follow your healthcare provider’s instructions. That way, you can ensure proper nutrition and hydration.
    • Food habits. The next important step is to change your eating habits. Start by taking smaller bites. Chew your food more thoroughly and eat slowly. It can reduce the risk of being under pressure and aspiration.
    • Proper hydration. Getting enough hydration is another important step in the treatment of dysphagia. Drink small amounts of water throughout the day, and use a straw. This way, you won’t overload your swallowing mechanism. However, consult your healthcare provider first.
    • Positioning techniques. Optimal positioning while eating can promote safe swallowing. Sit upright with your head tilted slightly forward. It will make removing food from your throat easier and minimize the risk of aspiration.
    • Swallowing exercises. Swallow therapy for dysphagia also involves exercises. Doctors direct exercises to specific swallowing muscles.
    • Precautions. It is very important to be aware of the potential dangers of eating. Be sure to eliminate distractions. Create a calm environment while you eat. This way, you will focus your attention specifically on swallowing.

    Of course, applying a home treatment strategy is helpful. But you need to keep in regular contact with your healthcare provider during therapy for dysphagia. Only a medical professional can monitor your progress and make any necessary adjustments. Doctors will give you constant support and guide you on the right path.


    What type of therapy is used for dysphagia?

    The type of therapy used for dysphagia is often speech therapy or swallowing therapy.

    What is the rehabilitation strategy for dysphagia?

    The rehabilitation strategy for dysphagia involves exercises, dietary modifications, and compensatory strategies for safe swallowing.

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Edward Medina
Edward Medina
15:34 30 Jun 22
Just such an amazing staff that makes you feel like part of their family. I’ve been going there for over 5 years now... and each visit I get the very best care and treatments that I have ever received in the 20+ years that I’ve been dealing with severe debilitating migraines. Since i started seeing them the number of my migraines has dropped from 15-20 a month to 2-3 every 3 month. I highly recommend them …they will change your life!read more
Daneisha Johnson
Daneisha Johnson
22:20 19 May 22
Dr. Askari was very kind and explained everything so I could understand. The other staff were nice as well. I would... have gave 5 stars but I was a little taken aback when I checked in and had to pay 600.00 upfront. I think that should have been discussed in a appointment confirmation call or email just so I could have been more
Jean Cooper
Jean Cooper
16:54 29 Apr 22
I love the office staff they are friendly and very helpful. Dr. JODIE is very caring and understanding to your needs... and wants to help you. I will go back. would recommend Dr. Dr. Jodie to other Patients in a heart beat. The team works well more
Linda M
Linda M
19:40 02 Apr 22
I was obviously stressed, needing to see a neurologist. The staff was so patient and Dr. Ansari was so kind. At one... point he told me to relax, we have time, when I was relaying my history of my condition. That helped ease my stress. I have seen 3 other neurologists and he was the only one who performed any assessment tests on my cognitive and physical skills. At one point I couldn't complete two assessments and got upset and cried. I was told, it's OK. That's why you're here. I was truly impressed, and super pleased with the whole experience!read more
Leslie Durham
Leslie Durham
15:05 01 Apr 22
I've been coming here for about 5 years. The staff are ALWAYS friendly and knowledgeable. The Doctors are the absolute... best!! Jodie Moore is always in such a great mood which is a plus when you are already stressed. Highly recommendedread more
Monica Del Bosque
Monica Del Bosque
14:13 25 Mar 22
Since my first post my thoughts have changed here. It's unfortunate. My doctor and PA were great, but the office staff... is horrible. They never call you back when they say they will, they misinform you, they cause you too much stress wondering what's going on, they don't keep you posted. They never answer the phone. At this point I've left four messages in the last week, and I have sent three messages. Twice from their portal and one direct email. No response. My appointment is on Monday morning at 8:30am, no confirmation on my insurance and what's going on. What the heck is going on, this is ridiculous!I've given up... the stress her office staff has put me through is just not worth it. You can do so much better, please clean house, either change out your office staff, or find a way for them to be more efficient please. You have to do something. This is not how you want to run your practice. It leaves a very bad impression on your more
Ron Buckholz
Ron Buckholz
23:32 23 Mar 22
I was actually pleasantly surprised with this visit! It took me a long time to get the appointment scheduled because no... one answers your phones EVER! After a month, I finally got in, and your staff was warm, friendly, and I was totally impressed! I feel like you will take care of my needs!read more
Steve Nabavi
Steve Nabavi
16:28 16 Mar 22
It was a nice visit. Happy staff doing all they can do to comfort the patients in a very calming environment. You ask... me they are earned a big gold star on the fridge. My only complaint they didn't give me any more
Katie Lewis
Katie Lewis
16:10 10 Feb 22
Had very positive appointments with Jodie and Dr. Sheth for my migraine care. Jodie was so fast with the injections and... has so much valuable info. I started to feel light headed during checkout and the staff was SO helpful—giving me a chair, water, and taking me into a private room until I felt better. Highly recommend this practice for migraine patients, they know what they’re doing!!read more
Joshua Martinez
Joshua Martinez
16:02 10 Dec 21
I was scheduled to be checked and just want to say that the staff was fantastic. They were kind and helpful. I was... asked many questions related to what was going on and not once did I feel as though I was being brushed off. The front desk staff was especially great in assisting me. I'm scheduled to go back for a mri and am glad that I'll be going more
Isabel Ivy
Isabel Ivy
21:42 03 Nov 21
I had such a good experience with Lone Star Neurology, Brent my MRI Tech was so awesome and made sure I was very... comfortable during the appointment. He gave me ear plugs, a pillow, leg support and blanket, easiest MRI ever lol 🤣 My 72 hour EEG nurse Amanda was also so awesome. She made sure I was take care of over the 3 days and took her time with the electrodes to make sure it was comfortable for me! Paige was also a huge help in answering all my questions when it came to my test results, and letting me know her honest opinions about how I should go forth with my more
Leslie Luce
Leslie Luce
17:37 20 Oct 21
The professionalism and want to help attitude of this office was present from the moment I contacted them. The follow... up and follow through as well as their willingness to find a way to schedule my dad was above and beyond. We visited two offices in the same day with the same experience. I am appreciative of this—we spend a lot of time with doctors and this was top notch start to more
robert Parker
robert Parker
16:38 16 Apr 21
I love going to this office. The staff is friendly and helpful. The doctor is great. I am getting the best... neurological tests and treatment I have ever had. The only reason I did not give them a 5 star rating is because it is impossible to reach a live person at the office to reschedule appointments. Every time I have tried to get through to the office it says all people are busy and I am sent to a voicemail. If they could get their phone answering fixed, I would give them a strong 5 more
MaryAnn Hornbaker
MaryAnn Hornbaker
00:26 25 Feb 21
Dr. Harney is an excellent Dr. I found him friendly , personable and thorough. I evidently am an unusual case. ... Therefore he spent a Hugh amount of time educating me. He even gave me literature to further explain my condition and how to follow up. This is something you rarely get from your doctors. So I am more than please with my doctor and his more
Roger Arguello
Roger Arguello
03:05 29 Jan 21
Always courteous, professional. The staff is very friendly and always work with you to find the best appointment time.... The care team has been great. Always taking the time to listen to your concerns and to find the best more
Margaret Rowland
Margaret Rowland
01:12 27 Jan 21
I have been a patient at Lone Star Neurology for several years. Now both my adult daughters also are patients there. I... love Jodie. She is always so prompt whether it is a teleamed call are a visit in the office. She takes the time to explain everything to me and answers all my questions. I am so blessed to have Jodie as my more
Susan Miller
Susan Miller
03:01 13 Jan 21
My husband had an accident 5 years ago and Lone Star Neurology has been such a blessing to us with my husbands care.... Jodie Moore is his provider and she is amazing! Jodie is very knowledgeable, caring, and thorough. She takes her time with you, making sure your needs are met and she is happy to answer any questions you may have. Lone Star Neurology’s patients are very lucky to have Jodie providing their care. Thank you Lone Star Neurology and especially Jodie for everything you have done for us. Jodie, you are the best!read more
Windalyn C
Windalyn C
01:32 09 Jan 21
Jodie is wonderful. She is very caring and knowledgeable. I have been to over a dozen neurologists, and none were able... to help me as much as they have here. Thanks!read more
Katie Kordel
Katie Kordel
00:40 09 Jan 21
Jodi Moore, nurse practitioner, is amazing. I have suffered from frequent, debilitating headaches for almost 20 years.... She has provided the best proactive and responsive care I have ever received. My quality of life has been greatly improved by her caring approach and tenacity in finding more
Ellie Natsis
Ellie Natsis
15:41 07 Jan 21
I have had the best experience at this neurologist's office! For over a year I have been receiving iv treatments here... each month and my nurse, Bobbie is beyond wonderful!! She's so attentive, knowledgeable, caring, and detail oriented. She makes an otherwise uncomfortable experience much more pleasant and definitely puts me at ease! She also helps me with my insurance,ordering this specialty medication and dealing with the ordering process which is no easy feat.Needless to say, she goes above a beyond in every way and I'm so grateful to this office and to Bobbie for all they do for me!read more
Matt Morris
Matt Morris
15:39 07 Jan 21
Let me start by saying that I have been coming here for years. Due to my autoimmune disease, I am in this office... once every three weeks for multiple hours at a time. The office is very clean and the staff very friendly. My only complaint would be there communication via phone. They aren't the best at responding if you leave a voicemail and expect a call back. I understand that this is prob just due to the sheer number of alls they receive daily. What I can say I like the best about the office are the people. Bobby who handles my infusions is great. I never have any issues with her setting up my infusions. She is very quick to reply to messages sent via text and if she were to leave then my whole opinion of the office may change. I also enjoy people like Matt, Lauren, and Jodi. I appreciate all that they do for me and without this team I'm not sure I would be as happy as I am to visit the office as frequently as I have to. Please ensure that these folks are recognized as they are what makes my visit to this office so tolerable :).read more
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