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Parkinson’s and Swallowing Problems

Medically reviewed by Sandeep Dhanyamraju
Medically reviewed by Sandeep Dhanyamraju

Parkinson’s syndrome is a degenerative disease of the central nervous system. Another name for this condition is shaking palsy. It occurs more often in older people and males. It is characterized by a gradual decline in motor function. Everything that happens to a person with Parkinson’s affects their articulatory system. More than half of patients with Parkinson’s experience varying degrees of speech, swallowing, and coughing problems. Other symptoms are also noted: 

  • As the syndrome progresses, the patient’s movements become sluggish and uneasy.
  • There is stiffness in the muscles of the arms, legs, and neck that prevents regular movements and interferes with coordination. 
  • And because of it, later on, the same facial expression freezes: staring, blank stare.
  • Speech becomes quiet, slurred, and monotonous. 

 

Even relatives and carers may not be able to understand what the person is saying, causing significant problems. Parkinson’s disease is also accompanied by excessive salivation and difficulty swallowing food.

 

What are the Diagnoses for Parkinson’s Difficulty Swallowing?

What are the diagnoses for parkinsons difficulty swallowing

Parkinson’s disease can impair the sensitivity of the pharynx and cause dysfunction of the muscles in the pharynx and tongue, resulting in food either falling out of the mouth or into the esophagus, even in the absence of swallowing movement. 

The main problems are:

  • slow eating;
  • tiredness from the eating process;
  • food sticking in the throat;
  • food accumulating in the mouth;
  • coughing while eating because the rhythm of swallowing does not match the movement of food in the mouth;
  • difficulty swallowing pills;
  • dry mouth.

It is caused by limited mobility of the mouth and throat muscles caused by an underlying disease of mouth and pharynx muscles. A dry mouth can be caused by medication or breathing through the mouth while sleeping. 

 

How to Make Chewing and Swallowing Easier with Parkinson’s?

In some cases, swallowing disorders may persist during Parkinson’s disease, making it very difficult for patients to function independently. However, regular exercise strengthens the muscles involved in swallowing. Patients can regain swallowing alone without assistance or a nasogastric tube. 

How to make chewing and swallowing easier with Parkinsons

There are other general  recommendations to make eating and swallowing with Parkinson’s easier:

  • sit up straight with your head slightly tilted forward while eating;
  • reflect on the steps of swallowing before consuming;
  • the patient should eat small portions of food to avoid food piling up in your mouth;
  • if necessary, repeat the swallowing several times to empty the mouth several times;
  • you should set aside enough time to eat;
  • don’t put the next portion of food into the mouth until the previous one has been appropriately swallowed.

 

If you have a coughing fit, stop eating and rest. Also, sit upright for half an hour after you have eaten. Always swallow before getting down to eating and speaking, which means

often. Keep your lips pressed together; the head must be kept straight because saliva collects in the back of the throat, from where it can be more easily transported downwards.

 

Recommendations for dry mouth:

  • often drink water in small sips or suck ice cubes;
  • you should limit your intake of caffeine and avoid soft drinks;
  • avoid alcohol and tobacco, peppermint, cinnamon, and caramels, which exacerbate dry mouth;
  • sugar-free chewing gum or lemon juice may be used to increase saliva production.

 

How to Prevent Parkinson’s Swallowing and Coughing Difficulty?

To stay healthy for many years, you must start caring for yourself at a young age. Considering that much in the body depends on a well-functioning immune system, it is necessary to strengthen the body regularly:

  • Have a medical check-up every year;
  • Promptly treat infectious and chronic diseases;
  • Engage in physical exercise, avoiding sports with risks of head injuries;
  • Get at least two hours of fresh air daily;
  • Do not abuse alcohol;
  • Avoid smoking tobacco products to get rid of swallowing problems with Parkinson’s disease;
  • Choose professions that are not connected with harmful production;
  • Not use concentrated household chemicals and fertilizers in the household;
  • Control the level of hormones;
  • Limit the intake of fried, spicy and sweet food.

 

Green leafy vegetables, liver, nuts, sunflower seeds, and olive oil contain folic acid and vitamin B12, which reduce blood levels of the amino acid homocysteine and are considered helpful in preventing Parkinson’s.

 

Bottom line 

Swallowing problems often occur with Parkinson’s disease, although patients may not know the problem. Speech therapists, nurses, and dieticians use methods to improve swallowing and reduce the risk of constipation and respiratory tract infection. At Lone Star Neurology, the best specialists in the field can help you find the proper treatment. 

 

FAQ

  • What stage of Parkinson’s is difficulty swallowing?

Swallowing and speech disorders may be one of the first symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, but they can also appear later as the disease progresses.

  • When should I be worried about trouble swallowing?

It is something to worry about if you have Parkinson’s disease. If this is the case, consult the doctor immedieately. Therefore, it is advisable to have an annual check-up to monitor the situation. 

  • Why do Parkinson’s patients have difficulty swallowing?

A lack of the hormone dopamine leads to disorders. The nervous system produces alpha-synuclein proteins. Due to a malfunction in the body, the proteins mutate and become abnormal. These are considered to be the biomarkers of Parkinson’s. The abnormal proteins combine to form complexes, negatively affecting the brain. Nerve cells become poisoned and die, and the production of dopamine, which is responsible for coordinating movements and controlling memory and attention, is reduced.

  • How do you help someone with Parkinson’s swallow?

Suppose swallowing is impaired, but the reflex is maintained. In that case, it is vital to retain the ability to eat independently. Soft, semi-liquid, and liquid foods are recommended and are consumed under the supervision of medical staff or caregivers. You should remember to eat at regular intervals and reduce the portion size. Also, exclude from your diet foods that irritate the mucous membranes.

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Lone Star Neurology
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Edward Medina
Edward Medina
15:34 30 Jun 22
Just such an amazing staff that makes you feel like part of their family. I’ve been going there for over 5 years now... and each visit I get the very best care and treatments that I have ever received in the 20+ years that I’ve been dealing with severe debilitating migraines. Since i started seeing them the number of my migraines has dropped from 15-20 a month to 2-3 every 3 month. I highly recommend them …they will change your life!read more
Daneisha Johnson
Daneisha Johnson
22:20 19 May 22
Dr. Askari was very kind and explained everything so I could understand. The other staff were nice as well. I would... have gave 5 stars but I was a little taken aback when I checked in and had to pay 600.00 upfront. I think that should have been discussed in a appointment confirmation call or email just so I could have been prepared.read more
Jean Cooper
Jean Cooper
16:54 29 Apr 22
I love the office staff they are friendly and very helpful. Dr. JODIE is very caring and understanding to your needs... and wants to help you. I will go back. would recommend Dr. Dr. Jodie to other Patients in a heart beat. The team works well together.read more
Linda M
Linda M
19:40 02 Apr 22
I was obviously stressed, needing to see a neurologist. The staff was so patient and Dr. Ansari was so kind. At one... point he told me to relax, we have time, when I was relaying my history of my condition. That helped ease my stress. I have seen 3 other neurologists and he was the only one who performed any assessment tests on my cognitive and physical skills. At one point I couldn't complete two assessments and got upset and cried. I was told, it's OK. That's why you're here. I was truly impressed, and super pleased with the whole experience!read more
Leslie Durham
Leslie Durham
15:05 01 Apr 22
I've been coming here for about 5 years. The staff are ALWAYS friendly and knowledgeable. The Doctors are the absolute... best!! Jodie Moore is always in such a great mood which is a plus when you are already stressed. Highly recommendedread more
Monica Del Bosque
Monica Del Bosque
14:13 25 Mar 22
Since my first post my thoughts have changed here. It's unfortunate. My doctor and PA were great, but the office staff... is horrible. They never call you back when they say they will, they misinform you, they cause you too much stress wondering what's going on, they don't keep you posted. They never answer the phone. At this point I've left four messages in the last week, and I have sent three messages. Twice from their portal and one direct email. No response. My appointment is on Monday morning at 8:30am, no confirmation on my insurance and what's going on. What the heck is going on, this is ridiculous!I've given up... the stress her office staff has put me through is just not worth it. You can do so much better, please clean house, either change out your office staff, or find a way for them to be more efficient please. You have to do something. This is not how you want to run your practice. It leaves a very bad impression on your business.read more
Ron Buckholz
Ron Buckholz
23:32 23 Mar 22
I was actually pleasantly surprised with this visit! It took me a long time to get the appointment scheduled because no... one answers your phones EVER! After a month, I finally got in, and your staff was warm, friendly, and I was totally impressed! I feel like you will take care of my needs!read more
Steve Nabavi
Steve Nabavi
16:28 16 Mar 22
It was a nice visit. Happy staff doing all they can do to comfort the patients in a very calming environment. You ask... me they are earned a big gold star on the fridge. My only complaint they didn't give me any cookies.read more
Katie Lewis
Katie Lewis
16:10 10 Feb 22
Had very positive appointments with Jodie and Dr. Sheth for my migraine care. Jodie was so fast with the injections and... has so much valuable info. I started to feel light headed during checkout and the staff was SO helpful—giving me a chair, water, and taking me into a private room until I felt better. Highly recommend this practice for migraine patients, they know what they’re doing!!read more
Joshua Martinez
Joshua Martinez
16:02 10 Dec 21
I was scheduled to be checked and just want to say that the staff was fantastic. They were kind and helpful. I was... asked many questions related to what was going on and not once did I feel as though I was being brushed off. The front desk staff was especially great in assisting me. I'm scheduled to go back for a mri and am glad that I'll be going there.read more
Isabel Ivy
Isabel Ivy
21:42 03 Nov 21
I had such a good experience with Lone Star Neurology, Brent my MRI Tech was so awesome and made sure I was very... comfortable during the appointment. He gave me ear plugs, a pillow, leg support and blanket, easiest MRI ever lol 🤣 My 72 hour EEG nurse Amanda was also so awesome. She made sure I was take care of over the 3 days and took her time with the electrodes to make sure it was comfortable for me! Paige was also a huge help in answering all my questions when it came to my test results, and letting me know her honest opinions about how I should go forth with my treatment.read more
Leslie Luce
Leslie Luce
17:37 20 Oct 21
The professionalism and want to help attitude of this office was present from the moment I contacted them. The follow... up and follow through as well as their willingness to find a way to schedule my dad was above and beyond. We visited two offices in the same day with the same experience. I am appreciative of this—we spend a lot of time with doctors and this was top notch start to finish.read more
robert Parker
robert Parker
16:38 16 Apr 21
I love going to this office. The staff is friendly and helpful. The doctor is great. I am getting the best... neurological tests and treatment I have ever had. The only reason I did not give them a 5 star rating is because it is impossible to reach a live person at the office to reschedule appointments. Every time I have tried to get through to the office it says all people are busy and I am sent to a voicemail. If they could get their phone answering fixed, I would give them a strong 5 stars.read more
MaryAnn Hornbaker
MaryAnn Hornbaker
00:26 25 Feb 21
Dr. Harney is an excellent Dr. I found him friendly , personable and thorough. I evidently am an unusual case. ... Therefore he spent a Hugh amount of time educating me. He even gave me literature to further explain my condition and how to follow up. This is something you rarely get from your doctors. So I am more than please with my doctor and his staff.read more
Roger Arguello
Roger Arguello
03:05 29 Jan 21
Always courteous, professional. The staff is very friendly and always work with you to find the best appointment time.... The care team has been great. Always taking the time to listen to your concerns and to find the best treatment.read more
Margaret Rowland
Margaret Rowland
01:12 27 Jan 21
I have been a patient at Lone Star Neurology for several years. Now both my adult daughters also are patients there. I... love Jodie. She is always so prompt whether it is a teleamed call are a visit in the office. She takes the time to explain everything to me and answers all my questions. I am so blessed to have Jodie as my doctor.read more
Susan Miller
Susan Miller
03:01 13 Jan 21
My husband had an accident 5 years ago and Lone Star Neurology has been such a blessing to us with my husbands care.... Jodie Moore is his provider and she is amazing! Jodie is very knowledgeable, caring, and thorough. She takes her time with you, making sure your needs are met and she is happy to answer any questions you may have. Lone Star Neurology’s patients are very lucky to have Jodie providing their care. Thank you Lone Star Neurology and especially Jodie for everything you have done for us. Jodie, you are the best!read more
Windalyn C
Windalyn C
01:32 09 Jan 21
Jodie is wonderful. She is very caring and knowledgeable. I have been to over a dozen neurologists, and none were able... to help me as much as they have here. Thanks!read more
Katie Kordel
Katie Kordel
00:40 09 Jan 21
Jodi Moore, nurse practitioner, is amazing. I have suffered from frequent, debilitating headaches for almost 20 years.... She has provided the best proactive and responsive care I have ever received. My quality of life has been greatly improved by her caring approach and tenacity in finding solutions.read more
Ellie Natsis
Ellie Natsis
15:41 07 Jan 21
I have had the best experience at this neurologist's office! For over a year I have been receiving iv treatments here... each month and my nurse, Bobbie is beyond wonderful!! She's so attentive, knowledgeable, caring, and detail oriented. She makes an otherwise uncomfortable experience much more pleasant and definitely puts me at ease! She also helps me with my insurance,ordering this specialty medication and dealing with the ordering process which is no easy feat.Needless to say, she goes above a beyond in every way and I'm so grateful to this office and to Bobbie for all they do for me!read more
Matt Morris
Matt Morris
15:39 07 Jan 21
Let me start by saying that I have been coming here for years. Due to my autoimmune disease, I am in this office... once every three weeks for multiple hours at a time. The office is very clean and the staff very friendly. My only complaint would be there communication via phone. They aren't the best at responding if you leave a voicemail and expect a call back. I understand that this is prob just due to the sheer number of alls they receive daily. What I can say I like the best about the office are the people. Bobby who handles my infusions is great. I never have any issues with her setting up my infusions. She is very quick to reply to messages sent via text and if she were to leave then my whole opinion of the office may change. I also enjoy people like Matt, Lauren, and Jodi. I appreciate all that they do for me and without this team I'm not sure I would be as happy as I am to visit the office as frequently as I have to. Please ensure that these folks are recognized as they are what makes my visit to this office so tolerable :).read more
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