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Ataxia UK
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Swallowing

Do any of you have problems with swallowing?

Recently I have found mine has got worse. I am having recurrent coughing fits and almost being sick or choking after eating. I am also struggling to keep liquids down if I drink a hot drink I have to sip it really slowly otherwise I can't keep the liquid down and it all comes back up again.

Quite often I feel sick after eating or feel hungry start eating and then immediately feel full up.

Does anyone else have these symptoms or suffer from the same problem and any suggestions of how to deal with it. Thanks

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Dear Grapes,

You need to see a Speech pathologist so he/she can give you advice and tips on swallowing.

Good luck 👍

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Thank you.

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Try to get a referral to a speech therapist as they can feel your throat to see how strong your swallow muscles are. All my husbands drinks now have to be thickened, if you can get this on prescription a gum based thickener is easier to use (Nutilis clear). All his meals are now fork mashed consistency, not so bad as it’s sounds, potato is mashed and meat is liquidised in gravy. Sponge puddings with jam and custard. Yogurt and puréed fruit are ok.Avoid fruit and vegetables that have a hard skin, eg peas, baked beans. If food goes down the wrong way it can lead to pneumonia.

Thickened drinks make you swallow more deliberately whereas ordinary drinks can slip down the wrong way and make you cough. Hope this helps.

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Thank you, that's really helpful.

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I have stated to cough when I have drink. Also I can’t drink my tea as hot as I used to.

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I'm glad i'm not alone. Good luck

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hello, yes i also have simular difficulties . i find it worse at night and find drinking through a straw helps .

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Thank you

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Hi Grapest12!

These are our experiences on a PSP patient 6,5 years after first symptom:

•Persistent cough. Use the syrup recommended by the physician. To avoid in the diet: coffee, carbonated beverages as pop or soda (or eliminate the gas by agitation before giving it to the patient) as well as chocolate, Orange, lemon or grapefruit juice, helps.

•Phlegm and choking: The first thing is to remain calm during episodes of truly shocking coughs. The second is that a physician rules out an infection in the respiratory tract. Get a pulse oximeter to control. (Fever is an indication usually either pneumonia or urinay tract infection (UTI) in PSP patients).

•It is not a big problem that the patient swallows his phlegm. For phlegm to be fluid, it is important to drink liquids. Steam inhalation from boiling water in a bowl with a few drops of some floral essence that is pleasant to the patient and a small spoonful of marine salt, with a towel covering head and bowl helps. (One to three times a day.) Medications like "Mucosan" (Ambroxol hydrochloride) twice a day or “Fluimicil Forte-600” (Acetilcisteine) one by day, help. Ask physician.

•In case of choking, raise both arms at shoulder height, breathe only through the nose intensely if posible. I not, inhale air intensely but not very fast through the mouth. Retain air a couple of seconds and then force the cough.

•Also here, to avoid in the diet drinks that can be irritating: coffee, carbonated beverages as pop or soda (or eliminate the gas by agitation before giving it to the patient), chocolate, orange or grapefruit juice, etc., helps. There are some foods to avoid…. things like rice, foods that crumble easily, sticky foods, etc.

•A steam atomizer to keep the air in the room moist helped, too. (40% - 52% moist advisable.)

•The physiotherapists have exercises reinforcing trunk muscles to improve the cough response to choking. Engage a good speech/swallow therapist to learn swallowing techniques.

•Avoid dairy products, especially before bedtime seems to avoid the increase in viscosity of phlegm.

•Raising around 15º a 20º the head of the bed also helps.

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Thank you. These are really helpful tips and advice.

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I find your posture makes a big difference??

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Till u c the speech therapist.... I have this too but milder. What helps??? Tuck your chin in low to your chest when swallowing. Also eat slowly ,,don't talk when you eat and cut your food first. The reflux and stomach trouble bit is unfamiliar to me and maybe should checked by a gastro ........ maybe its a common ataxia thing. Dunno xxxN

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Thank you. Yes maybe I do need to see a gastro will chat to GP.

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Hi,I know how you feel,I'm going to have a endoscopic this week, sickness,cough ,sound like Bonny Tyler lol,good luck ,xx

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Thank you. Good luck. It's horrible hope you can get some answers.

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I have recently been diagnosed and now understand my swallowing problems. I cannot swallow any pills. I have to be very mindful when I swallow . I now am able to use certain muscle tricks to swallow liquids. If I am not careful the liquids pour out if my nose. I cannot swallow anything carbonated or hot. I'm scared this will worsen and I won't be able to swallow anything.

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I'm sorry to hear that but good that you now understand your swallowing problems. I hope for your sake that it doesn't worsen. Good Luck

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