What advice can you offer someone who is having problems with eating as a result of a TBI?
After a significant brain injury, problems with eating, drinking, and swallowing are not uncommon. Even mild difficulties can be embarrassing in social situations. More severe problems can pose serious health risks. Ask your doctor to refer you to a speech-language pathologist if you have not had a thorough evaluation for this problem. Meanwhile, here are some risks and issues to be aware of:
- You may dribble food or have trouble chewing if the muscles in your mouth are weak.
- You may cough or choke due to weakness or poor timing when you swallow.
- Liquids may be harder to swallow than solids because they run down your throat too fast.
- If food or liquid go into your airway instead of your stomach, you can get pneumonia.
Janet Brown, MA, CCC-SLP spent twenty years in practice at the Veterans Administration Medical Center and at the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Washington, DC. She is the former director of Health Care Services at the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.