Supporting you to swallow

The following advice may be useful while you wait for your speech and language therapy assessment.

Support with swallowing food and drink

If you struggle to swallow, here are some tips to help you:

  • Make sure you are sitting upright with your head in a central position
  • Stay sitting upright for 30 minutes after eating and drinking
  • Avoid distractions, for example by turning the television off and trying not to talk during a meal
  • Take small mouthfuls of food or single sips of drinks. Try teaspoon sized amounts first
  • Take your time, don’t rush. Chew carefully and swallow each mouthful before you take the next
  • You may need to swallow more than once
  • You may find chilled drinks or naturally thicker drinks, such as smoothies or milkshakes, easier to manage
  • Avoid food textures which lead you to cough, such as:
    • dry and crumbly, such as crisps, nuts or pie crust
    • stringy or have skins, such as sweetcorn or salads
    • hard or chewy, such as bacon, sausages or undercooked vegetables
    • mixed consistencies, such as soup with bits, or muesli or granola and milk

Support with swallowing medication

  • Please ask your GP or pharmacist if tablets can be taken with small amounts of food, such as yoghurt, custard or porridge on a teaspoon, taking one tablet at a time
  • Ask your GP if they can be prescribed in a different form, such as liquid suspension

Signs that your swallowing may be worsening

If you become concerned about any of the above symptoms, please discuss with your GP.

  • Recurrent chest infections
  • Continued coughing/choking while eating and/or drinking
  • Discomfort during eating and drinking
  • Breathlessness when eating and/or drinking
  • Eye watering when eating and/or drinking
  • Congested (gurgly) sounding voice