What we know about the onset of dysphagia in the early stages of dementia is that it often doesn’t manifest as more severe symptoms like coughing or choking. Sometimes it’s more subtle like clearing the throat during meals, something a lot of us wouldn’t necessarily even pay attention to. But subtle throat clears throughout a meal can indicate that there’s a little bit of sensation that something might be going down the wrong way.
A change in voice quality is another thing to pick up. If you hear a wet gurgly quality of voice or if you just know it sounds different during meals or after meals, that can be a sign that something has gone into the airway and materials are actually sitting on the vocal folds.
Another common symptom in early phase dementia could be aversion to eating. [It can be hard to spot] because there are also changes in appetite that happen as part of disease progression, but some of that aversion or desire not to eat could be because it’s not comfortable for the patient. So, longer meal durations to eat and avoidance of certain types of foods that the individuals enjoyed before [can be symptoms of dysphagia].