Why are safe swallowing guidelines important?

It is important to ensure that hydration and nutrition are maintained for individuals with swallowing dysfunction also known as dysphagia. Safe swallowing guidelines reduce the risk of aspiration. The recognition and resolution of these problems can save lives.


What are some ways you can practice safe swallowing?

  • Sit upright at 90 degrees when eating and drinking. Additionally, sit upright for at least 30 minutes after eating.
  • Take small bites of food and take small sips of fluids. You can use a teaspoon or small plastic spoon for solid foods. If you use a straw, take one sip at a time and if you use a cup, take a small sip and tilt your chin slightly down before swallowing.
  • Eat slowly. Slow your rate. Do not gulp drinks. Take your time to eat a meal. To help, try putting down your spoon or fork between bites.
  • Chew foods thoroughly before swallowing.
  • Dry swallow 2-3x after each bite.
  • Alternate solids and liquids. Take a bite of food, chew it well, and swallow it. Then take a sip of liquid and swallow. Repeat. 
  • Make sure you have swallowed all of your food or drink before taking more.
  • Do not talk when you have food in your mouth. Focus only on eating, and do not watch TV or have distractions while eating
  • Chin tuck while swallowing. Tilt your chin down and keep it down as you swallow. This posture may make swallowing easier and will lower the chance of aspiration.
  • For foods that are dry, add extra sauces, gravies, and condiments to foods.
  • Avoid mixing food textures by separating solids and liquids. Take a spoonful of only thin liquids and then bites of food.  
  • Avoid foods that are hard or have tough skins, such as apples and other similar fruits. Also, avoid foods such as seeds and nuts.  
  • Talk with a dietitian to ensure you are getting all of your nutritional needs. 

  • Meet with a speech-language pathologist to review diet modifications and exercises that work best for you.





References:

(2015, June 15). Independent Nurse. Dysphagia And Safe Swallowing. Https://Www.Independentnurse.Co.Uk/Clinical-Article/Dysphagia-And-Safe-Swallowing/86310/


Patient Education. Healthonline.Washington.Edu. Https://Healthonline.Washington.Edu/Sites/Default/Files/Record_pdfs/Safe_swallowing_tips_11_11.Pdf


Schoonej. (2012, April 30th). Safe Swallowing Strategies. [Video]. Youtube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sIzoM599lds 
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