Outpatient Swallowing Clinic

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The outpatient swallowing clinic provides assessment, treatment, and education for swallowing and feeding problems without needing to be admitted to a hospital.

The Outpatient Swallowing Clinic team provides:

  • swallowing and feeding assessments;
  • treatment and education for swallowing problems;
  • recommendations for diet changes;
  • videofluoroscopy in conjunction with Diagnostic Imaging; and
  • consultation with community therapists.

What to expect

The main goals are to make eating and drinking as safe and enjoyable as possible and help each person get proper nutrition. The Swallowing Team can help reach those goals by suggesting:

  • Positioning changes
  • Special feeding equipment
  • Environmental changes
  • Swallowing techniques
  • Exercises to increase mouth and throat muscle strength
  • Food texture/fluid thickness changes
  • Nutritional supplements

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is Dysphagia?

    Dysphagia (dis-fay-ja) means difficulty swallowing. Swallowing problems occur with certain medical diseases such as stroke, neurological diseases and acid reflux.

  • What are the Signs of a Swallowing Problem?

    Some things that may point to a swallowing problem are:

    • Coughing or choking while eating or drinking.
    • A lot of throat clearing or a gurgly voice after eating or drinking
    • Complaints of discomfort or difficulty swallowing food or liquids
    • Taking a long time to get the swallow started
    • Taking many swallows to get each bite down
    • Having food left in the mouth after swallowing
    • Drooling or food spilling out of the mouth
    • Food or liquid coming out of the nose
    • Getting frequent cases of pneumonias and chest problems
  • How do Swallowing Problems Happen?

    Problems can happen during any of the following stages of the swallow:

    Oral Stage

    A person may have problems chewing or moving food to the back of the mouth. This may be because of weakness, lack of sensation, or poor muscle control in the lips, cheeks, and tongue. Food or liquid may fall into the throat before the person is ready to swallow.

    Pharyngeal Stage

    Food or drink can accidentally go down the wrong way if the swallow is too slow or absent. Also, if the larynx does not move up, the opening at the top of the airway may not close, and food or drink can go into the lungs. A weak swallow can lead to food being left in certain areas of the throat even after finishing the swallow.

    Esophageal Stage

    Food may “stick” in the esophagus or not travel down to the stomach as quickly as it should. Problems in this stage are dealt with by a physician specializing in this area.

  • Why is Dysphagia a Serious Condition?

    Dysphagia can make eating and drinking very difficult or even dangerous.

    Difficulties eating, drinking or swallowing may cause a person to stop enjoying meals. This can lead to dehydration (lack of water) or malnutrition (lack of proper nutrition).

    A swallowing problem can also cause food or liquid to enter the lungs. This is called aspiration. Aspiration can cause choking or lead to a lung infection, such as pneumonia.


This service is available at
This service is available at

Outpatient Swallowing Clinic at UBC Hospital

2211 Wesbrook Mall
Vancouver, BC V6T 2B5
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