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It is common to have trouble swallowing, also called dysphagia, after a stroke. You may not be able to feel food on one or both sides of your mouth. You may have problems chewing or producing enough saliva. Or you may have other conditions that make eating difficult and increase your risk of choking.
Other things that may interfere with normal eating include:
If you have eating problems after a stroke, you will need a thorough evaluation by a speech therapist or another rehabilitation specialist. You may need special X-rays to see how you are swallowing. As you recover from a stroke, your rehabilitation team will monitor your progress. Swallowing and eating problems often improve over time, but some may last for the rest of your life. But there are many things you can do to make eating easier.
People who have trouble eating and swallowing after a stroke are at risk for:
A person who breathes food or liquid into the airway or lungs always coughs or chokes.
Work with your speech therapist or other health professional to determine what help you need. The following are some tips for eating:
Prepare foods and liquids that are appetizing and easy to swallow
Use special devices to help you eat
Many people who have had a stroke have weakness on one side. If the hand or arm that you use to feed yourself is weak, you may find it hard to use a knife and fork. If you have problems reaching for food, spilling food, cutting meat, or opening containers, ask your speech therapist, occupational therapist, nurse, or doctor about special items that can make eating easier. Examples include:
Tips to prevent choking while eating
Bland foods are harder to swallow.
Thin liquids are always better than thick liquids in preventing choking.
Talk to your speech therapist, occupational therapist, nurse, or doctor for more information about managing your eating problems.
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Last Revised: June 28, 2011
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