Swallowing food and drinking liquids

Is anyone still struggling to swallow food or drink liquids after a stroke. It’s been a year and a half and I still have anxiety especially at night when the body is tired, or when I’m out in public with people.

It all started when the doctors warned me about aspiration and pneumonia since my throat muscles were weak. And now I’m still concerned and get anxious whenever I drink water.


Hi, Joy, welcome to the MyStrokeGuide Forum.

The doctors who warned you about the problems that can be caused by inhaling anything other than fresh air have done you no favours.
Although it is good to recognize why it is important to be careful while you eat or drink, being in a state of anxiety is more than likely to create its own difficulties.

I have myself experienced this to a lesser degree. When I eat and drink I need to concentrate solely on that activity, eating and drinking small mouthfuls and refusing to be hurried. I am very talkative and I have to deliberately try to not eat and speak at the same time.

If I get it wrong I end up with a choking and coughing fit. I usually allow the coughing to clear anything that went ‘the wrong way’ and follow with a sip of clear water. Then relax and either give up or carefully continue eating, without the chatter.

This all usually happens when I have combined eating and conversation, I just can’t do both at the same time.

I would suggest speaking about it to a doctor or practice nurse and explaining how the anxiety is causing you a problem and maybe they can put your mind at rest.

Be gentle with yourself, you are worth it,

take care,


@Bobbi thank you much for sharing your own experiences. I am the same when people ask me questions when I’m eating.

In the beginning when I used to have coughing fits I found then very scary. But these days I focus on eating very slowly even if it takes an hour. And when I am drinking water and some one is asking a question, I ignore until I finish drinking.


I’m glad you have found a way to cope. I’m pretty new on the stroke scene and there are a lot of issues that have to be dealt with, I suppose it is just a question of dealing with stuff one thing at a time.
If there’s anything else you want to add, you’ll find there’s always an ear for whatever you have to say.

Take care and
keep on keeping on


Thank you Bob, I think the majority of the recovery has been hindered by the mental aspects of the trauma such as PTSD, anxiety and depression.

There was also been a huge change in family dynamics who left me feeling worthless for months but now I’ve slowly being up my resilience and getting my confidence back.

Fortunately I’ve found therapists to help deal with these areas and it has given the recovery a massive boost. Last week I was lifting weights and managed to cycle a bit on the parking lot when my home is.

Hi @joy.alliy, my Mum who had her stroke over two years ago is the same.

We were told she experienced this in hospital when the SALT team were doing their assessment. Subsequently when she came home she was on thickened liquids and pureed food for a fair while.

Whilst she is now able to eat ‘normal’ foods (has to be cut or mashed up), this fear has never left her and is a constant cause of worry when she eats or drinks anything. Her appetite has been affected by this anxiety, as well as her ability to take medication in tablet form - it all has to be crushed.

As @Bobbi has said - obviously the doctors are right in making patients aware of potential issues, but I think they need to be more mindful of their language, and the impact their words can have on people who are clearly in an anxious state already.

We have experienced this with another issue regarding medication, after a comment made by the consultant at Mum’s video review This has left her with an obsessive fear of having a stomach ulcer / stomach bleed that we have to deal with on a daily basis. His words have made a difficult journey even harder - for all of us.

Take your time with everything and don’t be rushed by anyone. You’ll get there.

Sending Best Wishes

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Thank you @Craftchick my doctor gave the worst advice ever and only talked to the men who were in the room with me.

My father thought that my stroke was caused due to lack of eating and he confirmed this. Luckily for both of them at the time, my speech was not at its best otherwise I would have given them both a right bollocking.

Hi Karen and Bob @Craftchick @Bobbi,

After sharing your experiences I decided after a year and a half to text my neurologist and let him know how displeased I was with the way one of the visiting consultants deal with my case.

Thank you for making me realise that I am not alone, and that doctors need to learn to use the right language with survivors.

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Hello again @joy.alliy I’ve been watching myself carefully in regards to the eating thing.
I will burst into speach at a sound from my partner and have to work very hard not to at least say at least a word or two while I eat. Concentrating on this and with a deal of effort I have managed to consume food without the accompanying chatter. The result is noticeable, choking and coughing is almost reduced to zero, so a win there I think.
During the silence when eating I have noticed something else. Breathing through the mouth is the next cause of things going wrong. If, as well as keeping quiet, I only breath through my nose while consuming food the process is much smoother.
So nose breathing and refraining from conversation are my new thing to take care of at mealtimes or anytime when eating.
hope this is useful

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Thank you the suggestion Bob. I will practice the nose breathing this evening when I’m eating.

I shared your previous observations with my partner the other day. But he eats very quickly and proceeds to chat with me. So after reading your post if he asks me a question when I’m eating I tell him not now.

I find you need to establish ‘no talking’ before you start eating. Its self defeating to say ‘let’s not talk now’ when you have already started. I’ve only just started this myself but my partner and I are both getting used to it.
As I say, I’m a motormouth, and I need to turn off automatic, but it does make for greater comfort. You will notice a difference controlling breath when eating too.
You do realise that by asking this question you prompted me to find an answer for myself, too? So thank you for that Joy :smiley:
All the best

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