wildwomen39 Asked June 2010

My father-in-law refuses to eat saying he chokes and the food doesn’t fit. What could be the problem?

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tpfzowie Jun 2010
My mother began eating only soft foods and started coughing more and more. She lost a great of weight and now is on tube feeding because she was so severely malnourished. She has significant swallowing difficulties, probably as a result of a previous stroke.

Have swallowing tests done. Speech therapists can do special evaluations and can provide exercises and other types of help for problems swallowing.

Oddly enough it's thin liquids that can cause the most problems. They can start down the throat before the swallowing mechanism protects the wind pipe, causing choking. Any food or even normal secretions, can get into the lungs this way and cause aspiration pneumonia. ( My Mom is fighting off her second round of aspiration pneumonia.)

Foods can be thickened with commercial food thickeners or by tricks like adding instant mashed potatoes to soup. This helps prevent aspiration.

I recommend searching the terms, "dysphagia" - difficulty swallowing and "mechanical soft diet" to learn about helpful dietary changes.

Lilliput, my uncle had Zenker's diverticulum, which creates a pouch in the swallowing tube which can cause problems like difficulty swallowing and regurgitation of food. I think you could learn a lot about your mother's problem by having the barium study or other tests to identify the problem.

I hope you both can take action to prevent the malnutrition that has weakened my mother so much. It's a long slow process to get any reasonable amount of strength back and increases their vulnerability to all sorts of problems. Good luck
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toadballet1 Jun 2010
My mother is going through the same thing. The strange thing is that when she eats with us, she does not seem to have problems swallowing. When she is on her own, I think she gets scared of choking.
Her doc said that she could get rehab therapy to "relearn" how to swallow. She may also have a blockage and would need a "barium study." She would dring barium while they shoot x-rays of her throat.
I noticed that she asks for softer foods now and has lost weight because she does not get enough calories. I just found some new baby yogurts that have vegetables and fruit mixed in.
good luck
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