Most health insurance plans, including Medicare, cover the costs of the first exam and diagnostic tests for swallowing disorders.
Depending on your insurance carrier, you may need your primary care physician (PCP) to refer you to the UPMC Swallowing Disorders Center.
If required, obtain a referral form from your PCP and fax or mail it to us at:
Mail: UPMC Swallowing Disorders Center
Eye & Ear Institute
203 Lothrop Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
On the Day of Your First Appointment
Your first visit will last between 45 and 90 minutes.
Please bring copies of previous swallowing test results, exam records, or x-ray films. Or, you can have your PCP's office send these records to us.
When you arrive, you will:
- Need to complete a patient history form.
- Speak with one of our staff members to review your medical history and swallowing problem.
Our team of ear, nose, and throat doctors (otolaryngologists) and a speech-language pathologist will decide if you need testing.
If you do require testing, you will move to the exam room where we will conduct a fiberoptic endoscopic evaluation of swallowing (FEES) test.
If you need more tests, such as the modified barium swallow, you can often complete them and receive your diagnosis during your first visit to the center.
After Your Swallowing Disorder Tests
After testing, the doctor and/or speech-language pathologist will review the results with you and explain your diagnosis.
They will also discuss a treatment plan that should return you to normal eating and swallowing.
Treatment for your swallowing disorder may include:
- Swallowing rehab
- A nutrition evaluation
- Other treatments
Before leaving the center, we will schedule you for either a follow-up exam or treatment.
If you need to see other specialists, we will also provide referrals.
Nutrition Information for Head and Neck Cancer Treatment
While receiving radiation therapy for cancer of the head and neck, there are some foods and drinks you should avoid.
Because caffeine can cause dehydration, avoid products such as:
Products that may be hard to swallow include:
- Dry meats, poultry, and fish without sauces
- Dry breads, rolls, pasta, rice, pretzels, chips, cereal
- Dried fruits or vegetables, unless prepared in a sauce or with a high moisture content
- Cookies, cake, and pie, unless soaked in milk
If you have concerns about swallowing and nutrition during radiation therapy for head or neck cancer, please see:
Learn More About Swallowing Problems
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