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[dys- + -phagia]
Inability to swallow or difficulty in swallowing.
SEE: achalasia; SEE: cardiospasm
Nurses are often in the room with patients while they are eating and are therefore the health care professionals most likely to identify swallowing disorders in adults and children. When a swallowing problem is suspected, consultation with a speech therapist or trained nurse will often identify the need for further testing. Screening examinations include assessing patients for an intact gag reflex, testing how they respond to swallowing water, or modifying their diet to specified consistencies and thicknesses. Patients who appear to be aspirating should be kept from eating (made NPO) until they complete a modified barium swallow or other more formal testing. Instructing patients in tucking in the chin while swallowing or turning the head to the side may be helpful for many with dysphagia after stroke. Other causes of dysphagia have other disease-specific remedies.