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Maintaining or improving nutrition and hydration in dysphagia

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It is vital to ensure good hydration for patients with dysphagia

Dysphagia means difficulty eating or swallowing.1,2 It can lead to weight loss and dehydration as people with dysphagia have difficulties eating and drinking. This article the second of two which explore how nurses can identify and address problems relating to nutrition and hydration in people with dysphagia.

NICE guidance requires GP practices to screen for malnutrition on registration and when there is a clinical concern. All hospital inpatients must be screened on admission and all outpatients at their first clinic appointment. Screening should be repeated weekly for inpatients and when there is clinical concern for outpatients.3

Nurses working in GP practices can screen when carrying out health checks or providing flu or other vaccinations. They might wish to concentrate on people at high risk of nutritional problems due to dysphagia.4 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. 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 (Table 1).5,6,7,8,9,10

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