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Dysphagia: addressing medication difficulties in primary care

Linda Nazarko describes possible complications when managing patients with this condition

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

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