Swallowing Difficulties After a Stroke

By , Caring.com senior editor
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Swallowing problems are common in people who've had strokes. Throat and mouth muscles may be weakened, or the connection between these muscles and the brain may be damaged. It's important to address swallowing problems right away, as such difficulty can lead to choking, malnutrition, or even pneumonia.

How you can help

1. Watch for signs of swallowing difficulty and notify the doctor if you notice:

  • Extensive or labored chewing and swallowing.
  • Food stuck in mouth.
  • A cough while eating.
  • A gurgling sound when talking.

2. Ask the doctor to schedule a swallowing assessment.

3. Look into modifying the stroke victim's diet. Prepare soft foods and cut food into small pieces. You may need to thicken liquids to make swallowing easier. Ask the doctor for a referral to a nutritionist.

4. Help the stroke victim focus on eating during mealtimes. Keep talking and discussion to a minimum, as trying to hold a conversation can be very distracting for someone who really needs to pay attention to chewing and swallowing.