Therapy for Swallowing

Many diseases, conditions or surgical interventions can result in swallowing problems. Medical specialists and other healthcare professionals may work together to evaluate or treat feeding and swallowing problems. For help consult your doctor about the possible medical cause of the swallowing problem. An ASHA-certified speech-language pathologist can perform an evaluation of feeding and swallowing and provide treatment if appropriate.


A speech-language pathologist will do the following:

  • Take a careful history of medical conditions and symptoms.
  • Look at the strength and movement of the muscles involved in swallowing.
  • Observe feeding to see posture, behavior and oral movements during eating and drinking.
  • Perform special tests to evaluate swallowing.


Treatment varies greatly depending on the cause, symptoms and type of swallowing problem. A speech-language pathologist may recommend:

  • Exercises, positions or strategies to help swallow more effectively.
  • Specific food and liquid textures that are easier and safer to swallow.

Signs and Symptoms

General signs of swallowing disorder may include:

  • Coughing during or right after eating or drinking.
  • Wet or gurgly sounding voice during or after eating or drinking.
  • Extra effort or time needed to chew or swallow.
  • Food or liquid leaking from the mouth or getting stuck in the mouth.
  • Recurring pneumonia or chest congestion after eating.
  • Weight loss or dehydration from not being able to eat enough.

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