Swallowing Awareness Day

In 2021, Speech Pathology Australia will host Swallowing Awareness Day on Wednesday 17 March.

Like breathing, swallowing is essential to everyday life. Humans swallow at between 500-700 times a day, around three times an hour during sleep, once per minute while awake and even more during meals.

Around one million Australians have a swallowing difficulty. Swallowing problems can occur at any stage of life. However, the knowledge of dysphagia and its implications remain largely unknown for most Australians.

Swallowing Awareness Day 2021 is an opportunity to bring attention to swallowing disorders and to connect people with speech pathologists, the professionals who can help.


The theme for Swallowing Awareness Day in 2021 is: Dysphagia. A difficult diagnosis to swallow!

A secondary theme is: What’s this thing called Dysphagia?

What is Dysphagia?

Swallowing difficulty (dysphagia) is any problem with sucking, swallowing, drinking, chewing, eating, controlling saliva, taking medication, or protecting the lungs from food and drink ‘going the wrong way’. It can be a problem with keeping the lips closed so that food, liquid or saliva doesn’t dribble out.

Sometimes, the first sign of a swallowing problem is coughing, gagging or choking when eating and drinking. Swallowing problems can mean food, drinks or saliva gets into the lungs and this can cause lung infections (pneumonia). Reflux is a problem where the valves in the oesophagus causes the contents of the stomach (like food, drink or stomach acid) to come back up, sometimes reaching as far up as the throat and mouth.

Learn more about swallowing difficulty (called dysphagia) by reading the Fact Sheet on Swallowing.

This photograph shows a young woman drinking coffee from a disposal cup and wincing in pain as she drinks.Social media competition 2021

As in 2020,  the Association is running  a social media competition on Twitter and Instagram to help promote Swallowing Awareness Day in 2021,. The winning entry will win a $150 eftpos voucher.

Entering the Swallowing Awareness Day social media competition is as easy as A, B, C.

  1. In the lead-up to Swallowing Awareness Day, post a photograph of you (include colleagues, friends, family or clients), enjoying (or not enjoying) a cup of coffee or tea (think outside the box!);
  2. As part of your post write something about swallowing or dysphagia and help highlight the importance of swallowing and how it is too often taken for granted; and
  3. Include the Association’s handle @SpeechPathAus and the hashtags: #SwallowAware2021 and/or #dysphagia

Then, encourage colleagues, friends or family to “like” (and retweet) your post.

Social media

Help spread the word about Swallowing Awareness Day. Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram so share your experiences and thoughts.

Use the hashtags: #dysphagia and/or #SwallowAware2021 (NB. Do not use the hashtags: #swallowing #swallow or #SAD).