What is Swallowing Therapy?

Swallowing therapy is a rehabilitative treatment designed to help individuals who have difficulty swallowing, a condition known as dysphagia. The therapy includes exercises and strategies to strengthen the muscles, improve coordination, and develop safe swallowing techniques tailored to each patient’s specific needs.

Types of Swallowing Therapies

Swallowing therapy encompasses a variety of techniques, which may include:

  • Exercises for strengthening: Targeting the muscles used in swallowing to increase strength and coordination.
  • Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation (NMES): Using safe, electrical impulses to stimulate the muscles responsible for swallowing.
  • Sensory stimulation: Enhancing the sensory feedback in the throat to facilitate better swallowing reflexes.
  • Compensatory strategies: Teaching patients new ways to swallow safely to prevent aspiration (when liquid or food enters the airways or lungs when attempting to swallow).
  • Dietary adjustments: Tailoring food textures and liquid consistencies to make swallowing easier and safer.
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What is the experience?

Undergoing swallowing therapy at Louisiana ENT is an experience grounded in empathy and professionalism. Initially, a thorough assessment is conducted to determine the nature and extent of the swallowing difficulty. Following this, a personalized treatment plan is devised. Sessions are conducted in a supportive environment, with therapists guiding patients through each step.

Who is a candidate?

Candidates for swallowing therapy include individuals experiencing:

  • Difficulty swallowing or the sensation of food getting stuck
  • Coughing or choking while eating or drinking
  • Frequent pneumonia or chest infections
  • Unintended weight loss or dehydration due to swallowing problems
  • Conditions like stroke, neurological disorders, cancer, or aging that affect swallowing

What are the symptoms that require Swallowing Therapy?

Symptoms indicating the need for swallowing therapy may include the following:

  • Persistent coughing or throat clearing during or after eating or drinking
  • A change in voice or speech after swallowing
  • Discomfort or pain while swallowing
  • Recurrent chest infections indicating aspiration

What can Swallowing Therapy treat?

Swallowing therapy can effectively treat dysphagia resulting from a variety of conditions, including neurological disorders like Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, or a stroke.

Neurological conditions can profoundly affect the nerves and muscles controlling swallowing. For instance, Parkinson’s disease may cause bradykinesia or slowness of movement, which can slow down the swallowing reflex and muscle coordination.

Multiple sclerosis can lead to disrupted signals between the brain and the muscles involved in swallowing, causing dysphagia.

Similarly, a stroke can damage the parts of the brain that control swallowing muscles, leading to weakness or paralysis of these muscles, making it difficult for stroke survivors to swallow effectively. Swallowing therapy, in these cases, focuses on retraining the muscles and nerves involved in the process to compensate for the damage caused by these neurological disorders.

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Congenital abnormalities affecting swallowing mechanics

Some individuals are born with structural irregularities in the anatomy involved in swallowing, such as cleft palate or esophageal atresia, which can disrupt normal swallowing mechanics. These congenital abnormalities can cause difficulty in forming a proper seal in the mouth, managing the food bolus, or preventing food from entering the airway. Treatment in such cases may involve specialized exercises to strengthen the muscles of the mouth and throat, surgical intervention to correct anatomical defects, and strategies to adapt swallowing techniques to the individual’s unique anatomy.

Head and neck cancers and swallowing issues

Head and neck cancers, including cancers of the mouth, throat, larynx, and esophagus, can impact swallowing either through the presence of tumors that physically block or alter the passage of food or as a side effect of treatments like surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy. These treatments can cause swelling, scarring, or stiffness in the muscles and tissues involved in swallowing, resulting in dysphagia. Swallowing therapy post-cancer treatment is vital for restoring function and may include exercises to maintain or improve range of motion, techniques to manage saliva, and methods to ensure safe swallowing to reduce the risk of aspiration.

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Why choose us?

Choosing Louisiana ENT for swallowing therapy means selecting a partner committed to your recovery and well-being. Our experienced team of therapists is not only skilled in the latest therapeutic techniques but also deeply understands the anxiety and frustration that swallowing difficulties can bring. Our team takes a holistic approach, working not just to improve your ability to swallow but to enhance your overall health and enable you to enjoy life to the fullest. Our state-of-the-art facilities, patient-first philosophy, and collaborative approach set us apart, making us the premier choice for swallowing therapy in Louisiana.

With 6 convenient locations around the Louisiana area, we're never far away.

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