June is Dysphagia Awareness Month
Chewing and swallowing is something many of us take for granted. The average person doesn’t have to worry about the risk of choking or developing pneumonia while enjoying their meal. However, this is not the reality for the 560 million people worldwide who suffer from dysphagia, a chewing/swallowing disorder.
In recent months, a Methodist team with members in each of the hospitals has been working to implement new standards for dysphagia diets called the International Dysphagia Diet Standardization Initiative, or IDDSI. It is a global standard for terminology and definitions for texture-modified foods and thickened liquids.
Currently, dysphagia diet standards are developed at the regional or national level, which creates multiple standards with different terminology that can confuse individuals, caregivers, health professionals and researchers. IDDSI was created to improve the safety and care for those with dysphagia in all care settings and across cultures.
The IDDSI framework consists of eight levels ranging from 0 (thin liquids) to 7 (regular foods). There are three ways to identify the different labels: text labels, numbers and colors. Each level has specific criteria the food or beverage has to meet to be deemed appropriate and safe for intake. Flow rate is used to assess drinks and liquids while particle size, texture and moisture content are examined to determine which level a food item fits into.
The Methodist Health System IDDSI task force is working toward implementing the new dysphagia diet standards. The process to implement IDDSI takes time and effort. Stay tuned for more information in the upcoming months. In the meantime, find more information here.