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‘Dysphagia’ is a term to describe difficulties with swallowing.

People can experience difficulties with swallowing fluids or solids, or both. A normal swallow will ensure no food or drinks enter the wind pipe or lungs but for someone suffering from dyspagia, this may not be the case. People at risk should be assessed and monitored carefully to avoid complications arising from dysphagia, such as occurrence of chest infections.

Anyone identified as having swallowing difficulties should ideally be reviewed by a speech and language therapist (SALT) who will recommend the most appropriate diet consistency. The dietitian will then be able to give dietary advice based on SALT recommendations. If the therapist decides that a person is unable to swallow safely or they are unable to eat enough to meet their nutritional requirements, some or all nutrition can be delivered through a feeding tube. The feeding tube is a thin tube passed from the nasal passage down to the stomach through which special liquid feed is delivered. The tube is used for short time durations, usually from a couple of days up to a few weeks.

A gastrostomy tube (sometimes known as a PEG tube – for percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy) is a tube that is inserted through the abdomen directly into the stomach for feeding. This is used when tube feeding is required for a longer duration. This is usually used as a longer-term measure.

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