Try these ideas if myasthenia makes swallowing difficult.
To reduce residue in your throat:
- Moisten solid foods with gravy, sauce, broth, butter, mayonnaise, sour cream or yogurt.
- Choose chicken or fish instead of tougher meats.
- Avoid dry crumbly food such as crackers, rice, cookies, nuts, chips or popcorn.
- Avoid bread products such as sandwiches, bagels and muffins.
- Focus on the swallow. Hold your head in a different position to try a different swallow pathway.
To reduce fatigue:
- Eat several small meals during the day.
- Chop or mince solid foods (like meat).
- Eat your largest meal earlier in the day when you have more energy.
- Take anticholinesterase medication (for example, Mestinon) shortly before mealtimes.
To reduce the risk of food accidentally going into your lungs (called “aspiration”):
- Thicken all fluids to the consistency recommended by your doctor or speech pathologist.
- Remember that ice cream and popsicles melt into a thin fluid in your mouth, and that once you chew fruits, the juice released is also a thin liquid.
- Be careful swallowing mixed-consistency foods, for example, cereal with milk, soups (like chicken noodle or vegetable), and fruit salad mixed in juices.
To reduce nasal regurgitation:
- Limit each swallow to half a teaspoon.
- Sit upright and don’t tilt your head forward when swallowing.
Egg salad, canned salmon and fruit smoothies can deliver nutrients in a manageable consistency. Check your library or book store for “soft diet” recipe books.
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Reviewed by the MGF of Illinois Medical Advisory Board, February 2015.
This information was abstracted from “Myasthenia Gravis and Swallowing Difficulty,” by Angela Colton-Hudson, M. CL Sc., Speech Language Pathologist, University Campus, London Health Science Chapter, published in Conquer newsletter, MGF of Illinois, April 2006.