follys' Blog

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swallowing difficulty



last Saturday I had my breakfast of a few slices of bread and some lettuce tomatoes etc. nothing unusual occurred. however at supper I again had similar bread like sandwiches and had difficulty swallowing the flakey bread. did not have trouble with say a piece of tomato or onion. but the bread was definitely a problem that I had never experienced before. this situation has persisted till now. the immediate thing that came to mind is that I had another mild stroke of which I have several in the past 2 years. however there is unfortunately another possibility which is esophageal cancer. will seem pcp on Monday to start on whatever path he wants to take.

its a little disappointing if in fact I had another stroke as I thought that my change to a fish diet (I have fish once a day after having had no fish for the past 21 years). I am going to keep on this diet as it has only been since may 16th that I started it.

if anyone has experience with swallowing problems I would like to hear of what you do to cope. it is only bread like substances that cause the problems. but even when I eat food that doesn't get stuck I am swallowing it in a manner much different than before.

will let you know what is happening when I know more.


kind regards to all




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David: I do know others with this issue will chime in. And for some, another stroke was not the issue, or Cancer. It just developed many months after the stroke.


I have noticed recently that Bruce is choking more. His is thin liquids and I think he may just be drinking too fast. He does that sometimes when he is nervous, but it is happening more lately.


Any bread is a hazard - for anyone. Dry, sticky. You may just have to stick with a burrito as a side. I have to do that for Bruce for the Diabetes. Bruce is a meat and potatoes guy and loves his bread, but those days are over.


Like you, I will be monitoring the responses to your blog. Debbie

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Davaid Ray had swallowing difficulties probably from the stroke in 2007 onwards. That was the one where they send us home at 3am. So no therapy afterwards for a long time till he had a bad chest infection followed by pneumonia almost a year later and then had speech therapy. The speech therapist did tests with and without xrays being taken and found his swallowing ability pretty poor. She taught him to swallow twice and to check if he thought there was any amount of food left in his mouth.


Ray couldn't wash food down with liquid or he would choke. In the end he was on thickened fluids and pureed food for a long time but that was due to progressive TIAs, fits and seizures, Strangely it would seem like a problem for a while and then he would be okay for a while again.


See if you can get a doctor to recommend some speech therapy and see if that helps. Some things seem only temporary and I used to wonder with Ray if he had had a TIA or something that brought it on. The human body can be quite quirky sometimes. Anyway,see the doctor to set your mind at rest.

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Gary also has choking issues, but mostly with things like rice (small pieces that he tends to inhale as opposed to swallowing). We have to coach him with his swallowing almost every meal (10 years and counting) - take smaller bites, chew your food thoroughly, keep your chin down and head straight forward when swallowing. If he has his head back too far or is looking sideways when trying to swallow, he chokes more. Hope this helps. Sarah

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Larry developed a swallowing problem two years post stroke. Before that he was able to even eat steak cut up in smal bites. He has been to several speech therapists, had modified barium swallow tests, ENT, Endocrinologist, etc. Most say they do not know why this happened 2 years post. The stroke is the usual answer. His swallowing muscles seem okay.


Larry recently went to a "swallowing specialist" and she basically said his problem was due to the swallowing initiation. Yes, swallow twice, second one big swallow, small bites, sip his milk after each bite. He seems to be getting a little better. With the bread, I found that using wheat breat that is more condensed works better with him. I also only use half a slice spread with butter and his ever present ham salad. In addition, Larry has almost no appetite, so I have to encourage always and use whatever supplements and milkshakes, etc to add to his weight. So far, no feeding tubes needed! This eating problem is one of the worst deficits to appear!


I agree it is a good idea to have it checked out with your doctor who can recommend further therapy or testing. Best wishes.



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Sure, Bob had swallowing difficulties in the beginning, and still might. But they are like this... he keeps eating without taking a drink and it begins to stack up somewhere between his neck and chest, then he throws it up in his plate. That only happned twice and then I started watching him and made sure that he had a little sip ever few bites, so it didn't stick in his chest level. The other, and I do this too, is if we lean back while swallowing drink or food, we choke.


HOWEVER, years before his stroke we had heartburn a lot. I took mylanta for my terrible night time heartburn. It's odd, because seems it mostly happens while sleeping. He refused 'that old chalk' and took tums instead. He then begin to have trouble swallowing. This happens because heartburn that is not dealt with will eventually scar the esophagus and the scar tissue make the 'tube' tighter, so things can't pass down as easily. The would just get stuck right in his throat. He went to a GI doctor who did the swallow test and saw his throats problem, and did this 'surgical' stretch procedure, and all was fixed. He took one of those heartburn meds like you see on tv that say they are 24 hr heartburn relief (proton pump inhibitor. To make sure he didn't have heartburn so the area would heal, without creating cancer, and it also repairs the scarring.


He took the meds for some years... can't remember. But the thing is, you shouldn't stay on them forever, because they limit absorption of some vitamins/minerals. I finally have him off them and I started by telling him to wake me up if he had heartburn and I'd give him something, but that was rather like trying to get the cow back in the barn after it ran out. So his heartburn was pretty bad and back on the meds for awhile. Now, back off meds, and we make sure that anything like Italian/Mexican is eaten for lunch, not dinner, and he takes his stroke meds at night and around hour later, takes 2 tablets of Walmart's 'equate' dual action acide reducer complete (pepsid comparison). The key is to not wait for a problem to take it, but take it regularly before actually going to bed, so it has time to start working before laying down.


I really doubt you have cancer, unless someone let this drag on and on and on, which is highly inconvenient when it affects swallowing. So this needs immediate intervention. While waiting for your appt, try anti-acids like prilosec (proton pump in hibitor, over the counter now) while waiting for your appointment to try to prevent it from worsening. You do need a diagnosis and possibly your esophagus stretched open. Must know if it is stroke problems vs acid reflux.

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David, lets hope cancer is not a problem and another visit to the right doctor will detect the cause and let you know!!

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David, my husband Fred, has had no stroke, no cancer etc-- but about 9 years ago bread became harder for him to swallow--as can potatoes sometimes.. just a slight narrowing of esophagus due to aging--clear water helps him get it down it has not gotten worse over time, but you are wise to check it out.

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