Dysphagia and why IDDSI is important
An estimated 22% (4.4 million) of the UK population over the age of 50 live with some form of dysphagia at one time another but it can it affect people of all ages. People with dysphagia have difficulty swallowing, but affects different people in a variety of ways, some people may be completely unable to swallow while others have trouble safely swallowing foods or liquids.
Dysphagia is a secondary condition and has many possible causes. It most frequently affects older adults, but ultimately, any condition that leads to the weakening of or damage to the muscles and nerves used for swallowing may cause dysphagia. These conditions include diseases that affect the nervous system, such as Cerebral Palsy or Parkinson’s disease. Strokes, head & neck cancer and treatment of these diseases, such as radiotherapy or chemotherapy as well as head, neck, & chest injuries; are all common contributors to a patient with dysphagia.
Dysphagia can cause numerous problems if the incorrect diet is prescribed including a risk of food pieces that are too large for swallowing may enter the throat and block the passage of air. If the food or drink does pass down the airway it can enter the lungs resulting in pneumonia. Malnutrition is also a common problem affecting those living with dysphagia due to the lack of options available and difficulty getting a balanced diet including protein and fat to maintain a healthy weight. Often food can be unappetising when blended, and is far removed from a traditional expectation of what each food component should look like.
IDDSI will provide greater clarity and compliance, ultimately delivering improved nutrition and safety for dysphagia patients. The changes will provide a defined and clear foundation for those involved to base texture-modified products around. The framework will aim to be person-focused, rather than profession focused, looking to offer global terminology that will work for all physical needs and cultures. All this while being accompanied by practical and valid measurement techniques that will facilitate use by persons with dysphagia, caregivers, clinicians, food service professionals and industry partners.
IDDSI is endorsed by the British Dietetic Association and the Royal College of Speech & Language Therapists.