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C.O.P.E.
COPD. Online. Patient. Education.

How can you tell if you are experiencing swallowing problems?

Read the following two lists of the common signs of swallowing problems. Take note of any sign that you experience when eating and drinking:

List 1

  • Coughing or choking after swallowing food or drinks.
  • Increased shortness of breath during meals.
  • Wet or ‘gurgly’ voice after swallowing.
  • Feeling like food is getting stuck in the throat.
  • Difficulty chewing foods.
  • Taking longer to start a swallow.

List 2

  • Food or drink going into your nose.
  • Food or drink remaining in the mouth after swallowing.
  • Reflux or regurgitation.
  • Taking much longer to finish meals.
  • Getting more fatigued after eating and drinking.
  • Unexplained weight loss.
  • Unexplained temperatures or changes in sputum colour.


If you experience two to three items (particularly those in List 1), or are concerned about your swallowing, ask your GP (or respiratory specialist) to refer you to a speech pathologist who can assess your swallowing. Some pulmonary rehabilitation programs may have speech pathologists as part of their multi-disciplinary team.