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If you try to look up how common dysphagia is, you will probably see a range of statistics, but the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association estimates that more than 560 MILLION people worldwide live with dysphagia.

So what exactly is IDDSI? What does it stand for and how might it affect people with dysphagia?

IDDSI is the ‘International Dysphagia Diet Standardisation Initiative’ – a bit of a mouthful so you can probably see why we’ve all been calling it IDDSI instead! Many of those with dysphagia need food and drink to be a certain consistency to make it safer and easier to swallow. Those consistencies can have a variety of different names depending on what country or even county you’re seen in. IDDSI is hopefully going to reduce some of this confusion by putting in place one set of terminology. There’s an image below showing the different consistencies.

Many different countries have agreed to go ahead with IDDSI, so if you have dysphagia and decide to move to Australia for example, the guidelines will be immediately transferable!

Hopefully in the long run, IDDSI will make things simpler. But what about now? If you or someone you know has thickened drinks, you may have seen a change in the thickener scoop size or the packaging. Or maybe you’re hearing the names for the consistencies of foods being called something completely different. These initial stages can be confusing, but your local Speech and Language Therapy team will be more than happy to help you understand the changes. Currently Speech and Language Therapy Teams are working hard to implement IDDSI through training and by updating people’s dysphagia guidelines; but this all takes time and we would be happy to hear from you if you have any questions or concerns.

And of course there is the IDDSI website that you can take a look at if you would like to learn a bit more! https://iddsi.org/

Sam Hepworth is a speech and language therapist with 2gether.