This year, Swallowing Awareness day is on Wednesday 14 March.
Like breathing, swallowing is essential to everyday life. Humans swallow at least 900 times a day, around three times an hour during sleep, once per minute while awake and even more during meals.
Around one million Australians have a swallowing difficulty. Swallowing problems can occur at any stage of life. However, dysphagia and its implications remain largely unknown for most Australians.
Swallowing Awareness Day 2018 is an opportunity to bring attention to swallowing disorders and to connect people with speech pathologists, the professionals who can help.
So what is Dysphagia?
Swallowing difficulty (dysphagia) is any problem with sucking, swallowing, drinking, chewing, eating, controlling saliva, or protecting the lungs from food and drink ‘going the wrong way’. It can be a problem with keeping the lips closed so that food, liquid or saliva doesn’t dribble out.
Sometimes, the first sign of a swallowing problem is coughing, throat clearing or choking when eating and drinking. Swallowing problems can mean food, drinks or saliva gets into the lungs and this can cause lung infections (pneumonia).
If you have a patient, family member or friend with a suspected swallowing difficulty, get in touch with your local hospital’s speech pathology department or go to www.speechpathologyaustralia.org.au and click on “Find a Speech Pathologist”.