I found a really great blog this week talking all about dysphagia- or swallowing disorders. I thought I would share these techniques that are used to minimize the risks of choking or aspiration in patients:
1. Take a small bite or a single sip of liquids. Sounds simple enough, yeah? Multiple swallows, serial swallows we call it, are dangerous if you have dysphagia. Too much liquids in the mouth at once and you are at big risk that some of it will find your airway before you are ready. For that reason, I highly recommend taking a single sip from a cup or glass. No straw and only a single sip at a time.
2. Do not mix solids and liquids. Taking a bite of solids and then taking a sip of liquids is a recipe for disaster. This is one of the most common causes of aspiration. You are trying to control solids and liquids in your mouth at the same time. The liquids will find their way down faster than the solids every time. And when they go down before you are ready to swallow, your airway is unprotected. So try to take only enough food that you can swallow without needing liquids to wash it down.
3. Make sure your mouth is clear before you take another bite. This is another preventative measure that helps keep food from pocketing or building up as you complete your meal. A good rule of thumb is after every two bites, take a sip. And always keep in mind technique #2. This usually keeps everything functioning nice and clear.
4. Stay upright for 30 minutes after eating. This is always a good rule for people with reflux. Many dysphagia patients have material that pools around the airway instead of going promptly into the esophagus. By staying up after a meal, you give it time to go down without going into the airway. And just a reminder, if you can’t sit up all the way to eat, try to stay up as close to 60 degrees as possible.
Want to learn more? check out the link below!