Drugs and Dysphagia: Medications Affecting the Central Nervous System


This online experience is designed as two separate courses. The first course deals with medications affecting the Central Nervous System. The second course deals with medications affecting the Gastrointestinal System. You may choose to take only one course, or you can take both courses - in any order you wish. Please see the top of this page for information on a discount for registering for both courses. The course material is at a beginning to intermediate level intended for the following professionals: SLP, OT, PT, Clinical Dietitians, Nurses, Pharmacists, and Physician's Assistants.

Both courses contain an identical beginning section reviewing ”Foundational” material consisting of Neuropharmacology, the swallowing process and an overview of the effects of medications on dysphagia. If you take both courses, you have the option of exempting out of the Foundations section the second time by skipping directly to the Midterm Exam. If you achieve an 80% passing score on the Midterm, you may continue with the rest of the course.

There is a required textbook that must be purchased on your own to supplement the course content: Drugs and Dysphagia: How Medications Can Affect Eating and Swallowing by Lynette Carl, Pharm.D., B.C.P.S. and Peter Johnson, Ph.D., CCC-SLP. The book is divided into parts, and the online courses are based on corresponding parts of the book. It is important that the student obtain the text, as examples and test questions will utilize readings from it. Click on the "Associated Media" link above for ordering information.

Teaching Methods include:

  • Instructor-based lecture in text format
  • Informative articles that elaborate on text materials
  • Case studies with interactive questions and answers
  • Tables to be used in patient examples
  • Instructions for utilizing the book's tables correctly
  • Live Web links
  • Pictures and Graphics
  • Glossary and References
  • Instructor/class e-mail
  • Midterm and Final Exams – 80% score required to pass
Following the beginning "Foundations" section, we move on to address medications affecting the Central Nervous System. This discussion includes:
  • Medications associated with oral, pharyngeal and esophageal dysphagia
  • Causes of dysphagia
  • Drug-induced dysphagia
Medications used to treat psychosis, depression, anxiety and insomnia, seizures, bipolar disorders, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease are also addressed. Each part of the course describes the mechanism of action of the medications, dosing and side effects, as well as related case studies.

Several case study examples are provided, which give you the opportunity to learn how to utilize the text as a quick and easy reference source. This will help you more effectively and consistently reference the textbook when confronted with clinical questions in your healthcare settings. The examples should also provide you with real-life clinical situations that mimic problems confronted in your practice.

COURSE GOAL: The focus of this course is on providing access to precise information valuable in the evaluation and treatment of patients with Central Nervous System dysfunction and Dysphagia.

On completion of this interactive online course, the Learner will be able to:

  • Describe how dysphagia occurs as the result of several variables, including the decrease in arousal, direct suppression of the brainstem swallowing function, impaired oropharyngeal sensation, and disturbances in salivation
  • Discuss how medications that suppress Central Nervous System function can affect the different phases of swallowing
  • Summarize how the side effects and drug interactions associated with medications affecting the Central Nervous System can negatively impact eating and swallowing
  • Describe the impact of medication-induced dystonia and extrapyramidal side effects on choking and aspiration risk
  • Identify medications with anticholinergic properties, and explain how these medications can impact gastrointestinal motility and swallowing
  • Assess case history information to determine the probability that the medications described in the case history will affect eating and swallowing ability

Click here and here for information about the Course Instructors