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  1. #1
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    Apr 2009
    Birmingham area

    Question choking/coughing when eating

    I have read about the difficulties when eating food and choking in the later stage of Alzheimder's Not sure into which catagory this falls into
    My husband mid/later stages of Alzheimer's is beginning to cough several times a week now when he is eating. It is not actual choking (blocking of windpipe) but as happens to us all occasionaly he eats something which seems to catch in his throat and provokes a coughing reaction. He becomes embarrassed by it and refuses to " "eat anything ever again". He is very fit and other than galantamine and low dose of seroquel he is not on any other medication. Of course a little while later he has forgotten the incidents and eats normally These bouts started a few months ago but are now more frequent and in fact have occurred once a day for the past 3 days.
    Is this the choking reaction that is talked about . It seems a little early to be talking about soft foods.??

  2. #2
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    Jan 2010
    Near Herne bay kent
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    To be honest I don't know.

    but it would be wise to get it checked out as it is happening more frequently.

    speak to gp, CPN or consultant as it may be wise/time to get Speech and language therapist involved.

    I hope others with more experience will be along soon.
    Last edited by lin1; 16-06-2010 at 07:16 AM.

    Daughter and former carer

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  3. #3
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    Nov 2005
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    This has been a problem with my husband too - although now he is in late stage and is on pureed food and thickened drinks.

    For many years David was unable to chew properly and I am wondering if this is your husband's problem too. It meant lamb chops and steaks were out, even casseroled meats were 'too chewy' (not my cooking). So it was usually fish or minced meats.

    I think you should consult his GP and maybe he will arrange for a SaLT (Speech and Language Therapist) who would assess your husband, just in case. They tend to look at swallowing techniques, check movement of the tongue and inside the mouth.

    Good luck
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  4. #4
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    Apr 2009
    Birmingham area


    Thank you for your replies.
    My husband though far enough down the Alz line to not know who I am. is still aware enough to not want any medical intervention. When we go to the Drs I have usually had a previous appointment and alerted the very understanding Dr to what my concerns are. My husband is very fit for his age with few problems and he usually refuses any examinations or the fact THAT ANYTHING IS WRONG. The Dr is very good usually at getting round these problems but it usually takes a few visits and the problem is not too great at the moment. I was just wondering how common this sort of thing was. My husbands mother was also affected in this way ,also had alzheimers, and in fact he is following her journey into Alz , a long steady decline Died when she was 92. This was almost thirty years ago My H has been on this journey for 10 years (only 5 since diagnosis.,

  5. #5

    Hello tattyhead

    My husband has also been on this journey for 10 years although only 5 since diagnosis. He too has fits of coughing and sneezing after meals and he too refused to co-operate when visited by a speech therapist.

    Softer food has helped.

    Now he is in a care home I haven`t seen him at meal times so don`t know whether or not it still happens. I will ask today.


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  6. #6
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    Join Date
    Mar 2009

    Hi tattyhead

    My mum has the same problem coughing/choking its as though she is going to be sick....staff in care home said they were going to keep a close eye on it...mum has thickened drinks as well...apparently thickened drinks don't go down the wrong way to make her cough ...that's what the care staff told me...It seems to be a common problem!!!!!!!


  7. #7
    Account Closed
    Join Date
    Aug 2009

    The coughing is due to the fact that he aspirates. It is a natural defence which stops the food from entering the lungs which can be fatal in severe instances.

    He requires softer foods and to eat very very slowly, making sure he chews well and drinks between each mouthful to make sure the mouth is empty before starting another mouthful. Hard I know.

    My husband has been on liquidised foods for years, but his problems are mostly stroke related, he has a very slow swallow and is always aspirating even on the liquidised foods.

    If you stop chewing it eventually affects the ability to speak as it stimulates everything we use when we speak.

    The above are explanations given to me at my husbands latest assessment.

    Take care.

  8. #8

    Dad choking when eating....

    Thanks for these useful replies. I ran a little search before posting and found this thread covered some of my concerns so very helpful.

    Dad was sick a few weeks ago when eating and doctor came out to see him. It only happened the once but they kept an eye on him. The GP visited on Thursday and said all is fine. But while feeding him today (saturday) we noticed him choking a lot. Food was cut up fine and he seems to be chewing well before swallowing.

    Ill ask home and GP to look again but am I right in thinking that choking could well be a sign of eating difficulties at the later stages? Dad's teeth are falling out which doesn't help but we want to hold off on pureed food as long as possible.

    This kind of thing always seems to happen when you think things can't get worse

    thanks again for information and I will mention softer foods to staff.

    If you stop chewing it eventually affects the ability to speak as it stimulates everything we use when we speak.
    That's really good to know Win, thanks.

    Kind Regards
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  9. #9
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    Mar 2010
    Brisbane Australia
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    My Mum is still cared for at home by my Stepfather.
    She also is coughing regularly when eating or drinking and has been for quite a while. She is on softer foods but not pureed yet, but can't chew anything.
    Interesting to note about the chewing affecting speech as Mum doesn't really make much sense now (only says one or two words and then mumbles).
    She had an appointment with the SaLT yesterday but I have yet to find out the results.
    One thing my sister notices is that when Mum has a drink she holds it in her mouth until my sister says "swallow Mum". Even then my sister thinks it goes down more by itself rather than Mum swallowing it.
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  10. #10
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    What you mention is the probably reflex mechanism that comes into play when food/drinks get into the airways - something we all experience (that horrid feeling of "something going down the wrong way"), the cough is a reflex triggered in the lungs and airways to forcefully expel what shouldn't be in there. This should only happen very rarely, espescially in adults.

    The mechanisms involved in swallowing are very complex, and are mostly autonomic (that is, not under conscious control). During swallowing the body automatically closes off the airways and inhibits things like sneezing, coughing, breathing etc. The different bits are controlled by different parts of the brain.

    Sadly in dementia it is not uncommon for the mechanisms to fail because the parts of the brain controlling them are damaged. In effect the body forgets how to swallow safely. This can also happen in stroke victims, although in their case it is usually possible to re-teach them.

    However, there are other possible causes; difficulty in swallowing is called dysphagia and it should be assessed by a doctor.

    Foreign matter getting into the airways is called aspiration, and can lead to aspiration pneumonia.

  11. #11
    Thank you both for your very helpful replies!
    EVERYTHING you post can be viewed by people with dementia. Please be respectful at all times.

  12. #12
    Could the coughing be unrelated to the dementia? My husband used to cough at meal times alot and he was diagnosed with acid reflux.
    His coughing has totally stopped since he started treatment for the reflux problem - he hasn't dementia at all...just a thought.
    Daughter and Carer




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