Eating Issues After TBI


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.


Posted on BrainLine August 5, 2009

Janet Brown

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 current director of Health Care Services at the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.


Thank you. Everyone acted like i was nuts. Trouble swallowing, chewing, taking pills, talking. I only wanted soft foods and things tasted different. Sometimes I just wish doctors would listen!

14 years post for my daughter and every day I have to ask "did you eat? What did you eat and how long a go did you eat"? She just doesn't have the need to eat anymore.

I have a TBI and have no appetite. I have problems with what seems to be feeling of gagging when I eat. My stomach also doesnt growl much. I have gone down from 151 to 114 at one point. Dr. Put me on some kind of cancer medicine to make me eat. It helps some but then it locks everything else up. This is very frustrating. I am back up to 126 but if I dont stay on top of it, I loose weight real easy.

I had a severe TBI from a slip and fall on an icy road. Strangely I didn't loose consciousness, but I don't remember anything from that day or the month I spent in the hospital afterwards.

Ever since I haven't felt hungry at all, but out of normal habit I have consumed a small amount of food at my regular times. It has been 7 months since my TBI and I'm left wondering if my lack of appetite will be permanent. I have lost 80 pounds, so if there is any good that came out of this it is that...

I also lost my taste for food. I have lost 16 lbs in less than a year. I am very concerned as I am way too skinny. Now freezing cold everywhere except my own house. Its very depressing.

In August 2016 had a car accident. Was told it caused a severe concussion. Had to go thru speech and physical therapy. Since the accident I have had problems with my taste. Only really spicey or sweet register. The neurologist is telling me this can't be a side effect of the concussion. I also have problems with semi numbness. She doesn't understand this either. And my temps are all over the place. Headaches are horrible. And muscles in shoulders and neck are tight (dry needling didn't fix it) musclerelaxer isn't fixing either. Now she's saying it's in my head but not my brain. Doing an MRI of the brain stem to see if it's damaged. I'm wondering if I'm crazy or are there other's who have dealt with this.

It has been 8 yrs since my tbi incident and still don't have a "shut off" when it comes to food.  I can't taste food so well and I just keep eating and eating and eating.  I lost my taste, senses for salt and spices, and sugary things taste so sugary? My appetite is is like I don't have one, but I eat anyway just to.  so I eat and eat and eat.  Crazy!


Getting to grips with the issues that arise after my injury is weird. I don't know how else to describe it. Right now I hate eating at school because some people mock me for my issues. Aside from that, my appetite is still there, and my sense of taste and stuff, but I suppose the big issue is the dribbling, if only because it's embarrassing. I even feel awkward in front of my house mates even though they don't comment or stare. I've been a lot more self-conscious since I got hurt because of things like this but eh...

Just last week was the 2 year mark of my 'accident' from which I received TBI. I have no taste, no smell and impaired eyesight. Something I can't explain is the phantom smell of burning I get. I have no memory of anything except for a truck coming toward me which came back to me some months after leaving hospital. Interestingly there were no witnesses and I was left not breathing til I was found.

I lost my taste buds and have no appetite. Lost 7 pounds since my accident which was 6/21/15.

I have lost my sense of taste in a lot of food. All citrus is bitter & I can't eat a lot of things I use to because it tastes terrible.

My brother has a tbi and he has lost his appetite to for the last 14 years, he's also lost his sense of smell, and he doesn't eat bread anymore.

I lost my appetite completely and it never returned. I now eat out of social convention.

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