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Problems with choking early on?
Posted: Tuesday, November 3, 2015 11:41 AM
Joined: 10/27/2015
Posts: 38

Has anyone else had problems with choking on solid food early on in the desease? I have lots of trouble with choking, but I don't know if it's to do with cognitive impairment or with the fact I'd had a disc removal and fusion in my neck several years ago.

Michael Ellenbogen
Posted: Tuesday, November 3, 2015 1:31 PM
Joined: 11/30/2011
Posts: 4456

I choke on my own salvia. I am more sensitive to foods now then in the past. You can do a sallow study which will see what may be contributing to the issue. For me I was not swallowing right and it took additional step to actually swallow. I was mildly impacted as my test due to ALZ.


Posted: Tuesday, November 3, 2015 3:38 PM
Joined: 7/24/2015
Posts: 3020

I did, and started after they removed my thyroid in 2010, so I always thought it was related to that.  Like Michael, I choke on (inhale) my salvia, I have trouble with water, and my tiny pill get stuck in my throat near my voice box. 

My brain symptoms started in 2009, but were only interfering with my life beginning 2010.    

Posted: Tuesday, November 3, 2015 6:23 PM
Joined: 12/7/2014
Posts: 49

My wife just mentioned to me today that she has been having some problem with swallowing.  Said she chokes sometimes drinking water and eating soup.  Also mentioned that sometimes when she slurs her words her tongue doesn't feel like its fully under control.  I was also wondering if this was "new normal. "  Thanks for the timely question,  JeanetteD.  My wife is also early in the disease.
Michael Ellenbogen
Posted: Tuesday, November 3, 2015 8:30 PM
Joined: 11/30/2011
Posts: 4456

There are many body parts out of control at times which I cannot explain. Sometimes I am not sure if its real or just my imagination. 

Posted: Tuesday, November 3, 2015 8:43 PM
Joined: 5/20/2014
Posts: 4408


Following Michael's suggestion for a Swallow test is a good idea. You have to be careful that you don't aspirate fluid into your lungs which can cause pneumonia.

Posted: Wednesday, November 4, 2015 6:25 AM
Joined: 7/24/2015
Posts: 3020

It is probably a normal.  I have no clue why liquid is the worst because it makes no sense to me.  Also, the more I use my mouth, the harder my mouth is to use...if that makes sense. Esp in the evening, it can be very hard to move my jaw well enough to get words out very well. 

Over time, I have learned to hold my head and neck in certain ways when drinking.  Nothing can be done about the saliva. It seems par of the course if I talk out loud for more than one or two sentences, I inhale some saliva and have to cough. 

Aspiration pneumonia is the fear.  Likely more trouble when one is already bedridden.  Living with it is by far the lesser of the evils of all the solutions they offer. 

Jo C.
Posted: Wednesday, November 4, 2015 8:56 AM
Joined: 12/9/2011
Posts: 13593

Hi Jeanette, I have not met you yet, so I am sending a very warm welcome to you.

Since this is a consistent problem issue, it would be best to have the doctor order a Swallow Evalutation study for you.  It is easy to do.

It is done as an outpatient in a radiology setting (x-ray department.)  A Speech Therapist is the expert that conducts the study.

Nothing touches the body.  One sits upright on a gurney and a flouroscopy machine is placed in front of you.

The Therapist usually provides various things to eat/drink such as sips of water,  or small amounts of applesauce, pudding, and perhaps a bit of cracker.

The Therapist can watch the mouth chew, or work the food and can see the tongue and all structures of the mouth and watch the entire swallow mechanism in real time on the screen of the flourosope and can see how the food "goes down" and whether there is any "silent" aspiration happening that has no coughing or choking.

I've watched this being done and it is very interesting and a very good tool for helping persons with possible swallow issues.

The Therapist can then make an assessment, put together a plan of care including helpful exercises and recommendations for types of food to eat or avoid and whether one needs to thicken liquids before drinking, etc.  She/he will also send a written report to your doctor.

Sometimes, if there is an issue, the person will work with the Speech Therapist for awhile to learn special exercises and techniques.

I send best wishes your way,


Michael Ellenbogen
Posted: Wednesday, November 4, 2015 9:26 AM
Joined: 11/30/2011
Posts: 4456

Liquid items go down to fast and because your mind can not control and respond back fast enough to help you swallow properly.  Don’t get me started on those thicken fluids. I have made a YouTube about that.


Posted: Wednesday, November 4, 2015 12:02 PM
Joined: 7/24/2015
Posts: 3020

I saw that video, it was great and I am so glad you brought it to all our attention, because it was something I had not considered.

 They tried giving that to my mom once when they couldn't get the orders right for grinding up her food.  OMG thickened milk, gag me with a spoon.  I am so there with you Michael. 

That said, you might want to check the baby food isle...they have pouches now, and the grandbaby loves this one with oatmeal, peaches, and apples...and it takes like the best applesause ever.  You can suck on it, she does...or squirt some in your mouth or on a spoon.  Some are ok. 

But I am so with you on the thickened food!

When my body no longer wants food or water, I hope people will honor that. 

Posted: Thursday, November 5, 2015 9:56 AM
Joined: 9/12/2013
Posts: 3608

Michael Ellenbogen wrote:

Liquid items go down to fast and because your mind can not control and respond back fast enough to help you swallow properly.  Don’t get me started on those thicken fluids. I have made a YouTube about that.


 I also choke on liquids and sometimes food. It feels to me like Michael said, slow to respond in automatic (formerly aunomatic) muscle movements.

 I drink a lot of water and sometimes inhale while swallowing. When I swim I also have to concentrate on breathing and not swallowing water. Pool opens today! (swimming is one of my loves in life and there is a heated pool at hotel down road from me so I do it all winter - this year I may have to have someone with me though).

 I also question stuff like this as to "Is it my imagination?" but all kinds of weird stuff happens. I almost choked once brushing my teeth, where the fluid gets stuck, and remembered a trick of kind of pounding my chest and got it coughed out. At the time I was home alone and was thinking, what a way to die, from brushing my teeth.

Posted: Thursday, November 5, 2015 11:44 AM
Joined: 7/24/2015
Posts: 3020

Yup, not your imagination.

I *LOVE* heated pools.  I wish I could go to the one at the Courage Center, but I do need someone to go with me. I am so glad yours finally opened again.

My mom would always grab my daughters arm and raise it over her head if she choked on anything, seemed to work really well.  I now do to granddaughter...and even myself. 

Posted: Sunday, November 8, 2015 6:16 PM
Joined: 10/11/2014
Posts: 167

Ditto, it is not your imagination.  I also choke on water and my own saliva.  As far as the those tests go, they use thick liquid with radioactive stuff so they can see it on their machines and it goes down too slow so they don't see anything wrong.  I do find that it is easier not to choke when I use drink warm water instead of cold or room temperature water so that the throat does not automatically want to close too early causing water to go down the wrong pipe.  I also have problems with ground meat since the tiny meat particles can go down the wind pipe when I inhale.  

My best suggestion is to make sure you aren't watching TV during drinking or eating so you can focus on the swallowing.