New Guidelines in Australia to Make Swallowing Safer for Dysphagia Patients


Date : Jan 30, 2019 Author : PMR Editorial Staff Category : Healthcare

Nearly 15-30% of people aged 65 and above who live in the community suffer from swallowing difficulty, meanwhile, this figure goes above 50% for aged people in Australia in nursing homes.

Speech Pathology Australia has participated in an international initiative to ensure swallowing safer for people in hospitals and nursing homes in Australia. New guidelines including international standardized names and description of texture modified food and drink used in the medical and community settings to reduce choking risk are likely to be introduced from 1st May 2019 in Australia.

While analyzing the data on deaths reported, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare and Australian Bureau of Statistics found that choking is the second largest cause of death in aged care. Nearly 15-30% of people aged 65 and above who live in the community suffer from swallowing difficulty, meanwhile, this figure goes above 50% for aged people in Australia in nursing homes.

The new the International Dysphagia Diet Standardization Initiative (IDDSI) framework includes easy testing methods that allow health professionals, hospitals, consumers, and nursing homes to check if the food and drink that is being served to aged people in Australia with swallowing difficulty is correct. 

Under the IDDSI standards, makers of thick drinks and foods that are prepared to reduce choking risk need to offer a one set of labeling for packaging along with standardized number code and color, to be used and recognized across countries.

A variety of approaches are being carried out by introducing new devices and methods to treat dysphagia. In the past few years, devices have been designed to increase tongue strength in patients as the part of treatment. However, various clinical trials have shown that an increase in tongue strength in dysphagia therapy did not show any improvement in swallowing safety.

A new study published in Dysphagia states that with the loss of muscle and function in the throat, it becomes difficult for an efficient construction to take place while swallowing and this increases chances of food and liquid left over in the throat. This also leads to the need for exercise programs in older adults targeting throat muscles. 

Another study conducted in Australia found that dysphagia as a common problem in patients suffering from multiple sclerosis reduces the quality of life. The study has estimated that dysphagia may affect 30% to 40% of multiple sclerosis patients, however, the exact frequency is still unknown.

Meanwhile, new developments in the healthcare sector and qualitative development of medical treatments is resulting in new drug and medications. An increasing number of patients are opting for over-the-counter medicine over prescription drugs which is emerging as an important growth factor in dysphagia management. The dysphagia management market is expected to surpass US$ 3,140 million global revenue by 2020 end.  

In the coming years, dysphagia management is likely to significantly grow in North America due to a rise in the prevalence of strokes. Meanwhile, excessive smoking and drinking in the region is emerging as the triggering factor for dysphagia disorder in North America. In the US, stroke is the leading cause of neurologic dysphagia, and condition occurring in nearly 51-73% of patients with stroke. Adequate oral ingestion has shown a strong impact on the quality of life of dysphagia patient, however, research is still being done to establish new methods and standard techniques.


Back To Top