Today is swallowing awareness day. This is a day designed to recognise the difficulties children and adults with swallowing difficulties have on a daily basis and to raise awareness.
Additional to all the work Speech and Language Therapists do around communication skills and development, we also work with children and young people who have eating, drinking and swallowing difficulties. The medical word for this is ‘Dysphagia’. Some children may find it difficult to chew, manage food/fluid in their mouths and swallow safely. Swallowing safely requires the use of a number of muscles, structures, senses and messages from the brain to ensure the food/fluid goes the right way when we swallow. It’s a complicated process that many of us take for granted.
Did you know that people swallow approximately 900 times a day, about once per minute whilst we are awake? Each swallow uses 26 muscles. And surprisingly people also swallow about 3 times an hour even when they are sleeping!
Some common signs that eating, drinking or swallowing are difficult during meals are; coughing, gagging, watery eyes, change of colour, wet voice or breath sounds, frequent chest infections and effort to swallow.
Speech and Language Therapy can help children with these difficulties, get in touch if you have concerns.