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How are swallowing disorders diagnosed?

Swallowing disorders may appear at any age and indicate at a more serious medical complication. The intervention of an expert speech and language pathologist (SLP) at the earliest can be very helpful for an individual, dealing with the problems of eating and drinking. A speech therapist, specializing in swallowing disorders, assesses a person in tandem with the WHO framework. The diagnosis, basically, aims to identify and determine a few things like-

  1. The quintessential and unusual factors and functions affecting the swallowing process

  2. The reaction caused by swallowing problems on a person’s daily activities

  3. A few other factors that create barriers for people with swallowing impairments

For the evaluation of swallowing disorder the diagnosis enables a speech pathologist to hold information from the person’s medical history and physical condition. The specialist then

  • Assesses the history of medical conditions and symptoms carefully

  • Observes the movement and strength of oral muscles

  • Looks at the feeding postures and movements of the mouth during eating and drinking

  • Performs various assessments along with tests to determine swallowing disability

For patients having symptoms of dysphagia the assessments prove to be more effective in giving subtle and sensitive findings than clinical examinations. These assessments can be categorized as (1) Subjective Assessment and (2) Objective Assessment.


The intention behind a subjective assessment is to identify patients with dysphagia by observing the presence and absence of common signs and symptoms as well as discern the considerable factors like posture, position, weariness while eating a meal and certain environmental conditions.



A speech and language pathologist makes use of various clinical instrumental techniques to test oral, laryngeal, pharyngeal, esophageal and respiratory functions since they are responsible for swallowing. Therefore, the motives of the instrumental or objective assessment.


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