Swallowing problems can affect some patients with MS as it progresses. I have been dealing with MS since 1989 but changes in eating & swallowing only started to become a scary problem last year. My eye specialist also suspects that I have Sjogren’s Syndrome which means severly reduced saliva and this adds to the swallowing problem.
My MS specialist says that there are quite a few changes you need to make when this symptom occurs and it may help to leave yourself notes, using post-it notes, to remind yourself of what to do. For instance, after spending your whole life eating (without thinking about the process) you now have to think about not breathing while you swallow and being prepared to swallow twice as foods get stuck or are slow to start to go down. My most worrisome problems are caused by tiny bits of food going down my airway, coughing ensues along with up to 30 minutes of getting that food bit back up out of my windpipe.
Foods that I have to be very careful with now are : toast, bread, hamburger, certain soups, some fruits and anything that has a drying affect like Pink Lady apples Or crackers.
The dangers of getting food down your windpipe, aside from going red in the face and spluttering to the point where people wonder if they need to do the Heimlich on you, is the potential to develop pneumonia.
There are therapy techniques and help available from speech therapists if ordered by your doctor. I haven’t had any therapy at this point because it’s hard for me to get transportation to the therapy center, but I’ll report back as this situation continues and what my MS dude has to say after my next visit in March.
if you have any tricks or tips to share with myself and others with swallowing problems please post it here !