Developing a common dysphagia diet language
The IDDSI committee came together in 2013 with a goal of developing international standardized terminology and descriptors for dysphagia diets that would meet the needs of individuals with dysphagia across the age span, across all care setting and across all cultures.
Dysphagia (swallowing disorder) is broadly estimated to affect 8% of the general population. This is 590 million people worldwide. Persons with dysphagia might experience trouble with: swallowing food or drinks, chewing, sucking, controlling saliva, taking medication, or protecting the airway from choking. Dysphagia can occur at any time during the lifespan and may be short or long term. The most common causes of dysphagia are related to underlying medical or physical conditions. There are a number of significant consequences related to dysphagia including life-threatening chest infection (or pneumonia), malnutrition or dehydration. Having a swallowing disorder greatly impacts an individual’s quality of life.
There are a number of strategies and treatments used to help improve the safety, efficiency and enjoyment of the individual with dysphagia.
One of the most common ways of managing dysphagia is the provision of texture modified foods (chopped, minced, pureed) and thickened liquids (thin and various thicknesses). These modified foods and drinks are provided to help reduce the risk of choking or having material entering the lungs airway and may be commonly referred to as a dysphagia diet.
Due to the enormous variation in types of foods and drinks as well as their properties, it is challenging to categorize foods and drinks to ensure universal understanding of the types of foods and drinks that would best meet the needs of an individual with dysphagia. Confusion and miscommunication regarding diet textures and drink consistencies has resulted in increased risk of illness and even death.
Three years of ongoing work and an exhaustive review of existing standards, available evidence and collaborative efforts from stakeholder groups, the International Dysphagia Diet Standardisation Committee came to fruition in November 2015 with the publication of the IDDSI Framework and Level Descriptors and the IDDSI Testing Methods documents, after has resulted in a framework that which aims to be culturally sensitive, measurable and applicable to individuals of all age groups in all care settings.
The IDDSI Framework was updated in July 2019 with the addition of Level 7 Easy to Chew, a sub-level of Level 7 Regular as a result of international requests to classify everyday foods of soft, tender textures that are developmentally and age appropriate.
In response to the global community, the IDDSI board has agreed to lead and coordinate IDDSI Implementation.