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Ask The Expert – Hannah Junker, SLP-CCC

Q: I often experience coughing, choking, or food getting stuck in my throat during meals. What is wrong? How can I fix this?

A: Speech-Language Pathologists can evaluate and treat swallowing difficulties. Untreated swallowing difficulties can cause pneumonia, breathing problems, choking, malnutrition, dehydration, weight loss, mouth infections, or dental cavities.

At Rainy Lake Medical Center, we offer two different types of swallowing evaluations;

-Clinical swallowing evaluations are a non-instrumental swallowing assessment to observe behaviors associated with swallowing. The speech-language pathologist collects background information, completes an oral-motor examination, and observes the patient eating and drinking a variety of foods and liquids.

-Videofluoroscopic swallowing studies are a diagnostic test, using fluoroscopy or a moving X-ray of the swallowing tract, to determine the nature and extent of a wide range of swallowing disorders. This allows for detailed analysis of the swallowing process and helps to plan behavioral swallowing therapy. These studies are performed jointly by a radiologist and speech-language pathologist.

After the evaluation process an individualized treatment plan is created, which can include,

-Exercises to improve swallowing muscles

-Modification of body positioning during and after meals

-Strategies to improve the safety of the swallow

-Adjustments to the rate, volume, and method of eating and drinking

-Changing the consistency of foods and liquids

Talk to your doctor is you believe you need a swallowing evaluation.


For more information on how our Therapy & Wellness team can assist your family please call: 218.283.5420


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