Will stroke-induced dysphagia go away with time?

7 answers | Last updated: Oct 22, 2016
Devinsnana asked...

If a person has had a major stroke and develops dysphagia, can or will this go away in time?


Expert Answers

James Castle, M.D. is a neurologist at NorthShore University HealthSystem (affiliated with The University of Chicago) and an expert on strokes.

As with any symptom after a stroke, only time will tell if it improves. As a general rule, symptoms do not get worse once a stroke has happened (at least after the first few weeks), but we never know how much better the symptoms will get or if they will ever go away.

In certain sciences, prediction is easy and accurate. In others, it is not. Unfortunately, stroke recovery is not an accurate science. I would compare this to asking an Economist how the economy is going to look in 6 months, or asking a Weatherman how the weather will look in 6 months. They can give you a rough guess, but nothing precise.

The vast majority of improvement after a stroke occurs within the first 6 monts, then slows down substantially. Therefore, you can make a fairly accurate guess as to how much better the dysphagia gets by plotting out the improvement thus far, and continue this out until about 4 months (to correct for the fact that the recovery slows the farther out you are from a stroke).


Community Answers

Devinsnana answered...

James Castle MD thank you so much for your response it does help a great deal. I do have one more question. Apparently my brother-in-law does respond when people enter the room with a thumbs up, however the next day he might show 2 fingers or something else. The physicians say his brain is scramble and that part I get. However they also tell the family this is just sort of knee jerk reaction with no meaning and that part I don't get. Even if what he does is not correct I see it as he is acknowledging people when they come into his room. Why do doctors always say these things are just reactions with no meaning?


Grannylove2 answered...

Very good question, Devinsnana!!! I am interested in the answer as well. I would like to say, Dr. Castle, that I appreciate the answers you have given in these forums and I do understand that Medcine is a "Practice" not a given and a concrete answer is not always possible.


Larissa michelle answered...

In my dad's case, his dysphagia got worse over time. He had his massive stroke 3 and a half years ago. Since then he has needed to have all liquids thickened, but there were almost no restrictions on food. However, since this past January, the dysphagia has become more and more severe. He now has a feeding tube and was eating puree foods as well, but he's no longer eating and will probably never again because of aspiration risk. Goodluck and I hope this won't be the case for you.


Mary simpson answered...

THERE SHOULD BE A SPEACH THERAPIST INVOLVED IN LYING OUT PLANS OF EXERCISES TO STRENGTHEN AND TO EVALUATE. I EVEN USED A SMALL VIBRATOR TO HELP MY THROAT MUSCLSES GET BACK WORKING. I ATE LOTS OF PURIED FOOD WITH A STRAW FOR FEW WEEKS.

STAY POSITIVE. HUGS' MARY


Jade1961 answered...

@Dr. Castle. As a medically retired Physician Assistant certified both in PA & AK, I would have to disagree on one point. Most of medicine is not an exact science. You can make a hypothetical guess in some cases but at the end of the day each person responds to his or her therapy dependent upon multiple factors. One of the largest being patient compliance with any given regimen for recovery. I was given 18 months to live in 1994 when I was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma. Then for no explanation and without any medical intervention 10 years ago as of July 2010 I went into complete and spontaneous remission. I have had several strokes, one of which caused dysphagia, I regained my ability to swallow over a time frame of around 6 months. I was determined, I was compliant with my therapists and to Mary I found that use of a small massaging device was helpful in actually swallowing. It worked almost in the same way that helping a puppy by stroking their throat to take medication helps. I am not saying that this will work for Devinsnana's family member but it cannot hurt to try. Sometimes, those of us in the medical community get so caught up in the negative outcome of things that we preclude any alternative means to get someone back on their feet. Devinsnana, get as many opinions as you feel you need. No one person can have all of the answers. Find yourself a doctor and therapists that will be POSITIVE with you because it does not matter if it is Cancer or a Stroke, Attitude is everything when it comes to healing. If one is surrounded by caregivers with a negative outlook chances are the outcome will be just as negative. I am not saying that this is always the case. However, more often than not, most patients take their cues as to what will happen to them from the "Experts". We in the medical field are not God & We do not have the right to behave as though we are. God Bless you & your family member. I will keep you in my prayers. Jade


Hitinfuse2 answered...

I had a stroke 2003 and also brain surgery. It's now 7 yrs. and still not able to walk normally. I constantly have pain in my right side of my body but I'm determined to walk inspite of the pain.I thought I will probably die in a year time, because I was unconcious for 2 weeks but it's now 7 yrs. So no doctor can tell us when we going to die, only God can tell.Since, I am no longer working, i still read the news in my computer constantly.