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Strategies you can use to help manage swallowing problems

If you are experiencing swallowing problems, a speech pathologist can give you specific advice to help you eat and drink safely.


Even if you are not experiencing swallowing problems, you should be aware that there are a number of strategies that can be used to protect the lungs. This knowledge could help you if you do encounter swallowing problems (for example, if you have a flare up). These strategies include:

  • Try not to eat or drink when you are breathless.
  • Always sit upright in a supported chair when you are eating and drinking.
  • Eat slowly and take small mouthfuls. 
  • Select foods that are soft and easy to chew or add sauce or gravy to moisten foods. 
  • If worn at home, oxygen prongs should not be removed during meals.
  • Have smaller, more frequent meals and take a break during your meal if you become too short of breath. 
  • Try to breathe out immediately after you swallow to help clear any food or fluid left in your throat. 
  • Alternate between sips of fluids and solids. 
  • Try swallowing twice per mouthful.
  • Try to minimise talking during mealtimes to reduce the exertion on your breathing.
  • Remain upright for 30 minutes after your meal.
  • If you experience reflux or heartburn, discuss anti-reflux medication with your GP.