Clinician's Library

Swallowing Problems in MS

19 February 2016

Dysphagia, or difficulty in swallowing, can occur among people with MS. While more frequent in advanced disease, it can occur at any stage.

The person may cough after drinking liquids, or choke while eating certain foods, particularly those with crumbly textures. When this kind of coughing or choking occurs, the food or liquids are inhaled into the trachea (windpipe) instead of going down the esophagus (gullet) and into the stomach. Once in the lungs, the inhaled food or liquids can cause pneumonia or abscesses. Because the food or drink is not reaching the stomach, a person may also be at risk for malnutrition or dehydration. ­

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