One of the most common effects of a stroke or other neurological damage is dysphagia, or difficulty swallowing. Over the past two weeks, we’ve discussed some ways to manage dysphagia and how a speech-language pathologist can help. Today, we provide you with some strategies to make eating with dysphagia safer and easier:
- Slow down. Eating at a slow, relaxed pace can make swallowing safer and more manageable.
- Take small sips and bites. This can make it easier to prevent food from entering the airway, and make it less dangerous if it does.
- Often dysphagia can worsen with fatigue. It may help to eat more challenging foods earlier in the day. Having more frequent, smaller meals can also make swallowing easier for a person with dysphagia.
- Make sure the mouth is entirely empty before taking the next bite. Check for food residue in the mouth at the end of the meal as well; reduced sensation in the mouth may mean a person is unaware of remaining food, which can be a choking hazard. Food is often found in the side pockets of the cheeks.
- Alternate sips of liquids (thickened if necessary) between bites to help clear food residue and help food to go down more easily. An extra swallow between mouthfuls can also help.
- Make sure you are sitting as upright as possible throughout the meal, and do not lie down for at least 20 minutes after.
- If you are feeding someone with dysphagia, always sit down and feed them at eye level. Feeding them while standing will cause the head to naturally tilt back, making it more likely that food will enter the lungs.
Check in with us again next week when we’ll talk about how tube-feeding can play into dysphagia management.
Do you or does someone you love have dysphagia? Share your story in the comment section below!
For information on our New York based Speech-Language Pathology services, please call Speech Associates of New York today at (212) 308-7725 or visit our website at http://www.speechassociatesofny.com and find out how our team of professionally trained and certified speech-language pathologists can help!
© 2014, Speech Associates of New York – All Rights Reserved