This site is intended for healthcare professionals only

Dysphagia: addressing medication difficulties in primary care

Written by: | Published:

Prescribers may want to consider alternative routes of drug administration for patients with dysphagia

Dysphagia literally means difficulty eating or swallowing.1 Dysphagia can adversely affect a person’s health and wellbeing because affected individuals may be unable to take prescribed medication and have difficulties eating and drinking. This article, the first of two, explores how nurses can identify and address difficulties with medication. The second article will explore how nurses can address problems relating to nutrition and hydration.

The prevalence of dysphagia rises with age and is associated with neurological conditions and certain long term conditions. Around 11% of adults living in their own homes have dysphagia.2 Frail older people, those with neurological problems such as stroke and Parkinson’s disease and those with, chronic obstructive airways disease (COPD) are at greater risk of developing swallowing problems (see figure one).3,4,5,6,7

Why does dysphagia occur?

The normal swallow has 4 phases (see table one) and is dependent on an intact motor and nervous system.8 Conditions that affect the motor or nervous system such as dementia, stroke, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease increase the risks of dysphagia. Age related changes including changes to dentition, saliva production and motor function also increase the risks of dysphagia.9

If dysphagia is suspected

Please login or register to read the rest of the article and to have access to downloads and comments.

What do you think? Leave a comment below or tweet your views to @IndyNurseMag

This material is protected by MA Healthcare Ltd copyright.
See Terms and Conditions.

Read a free issue from Practice Nursing

Register to read a free issue from our sister publication, Practice Nursing.

Including articles on asthma, diabetes and more. Read your copy.


Sign up to the newsletter


Independent Nurse is the professional resource for primary care and community nurses, providing clinical articles for practice nurses and prescribers.


Subscribe to our newsletter and stay up to date with the latest nursing news.

Stay Connected

Stay social with Independent Nurse by following us on Twitter, liking us on Facebook or connecting on LinkedIn.


Need access to some of our older articles? You can view our archive, or alternatively contact us.

Contact Us

MA Healthcare Ltd.
St Jude's Church, Dulwich Road
London, SE24 0PB

Tel: +44 (0)20 7738 5454
Registered in England and Wales No. 01878373

Meet the team


Find out how to contribute to Independent Nurse here.