Sometimes the muscles that help a person swallow are affected by a stroke. This may cause problems with swallowing or dysphagia. The patient may cough or choke when eating or drinking. The patient may also pocket food in one side of the mouth without even knowing it. Close attention to this problem is needed to prevent food or fluid from being aspirated, or going into the lungs, and causing pneumonia.
Special swallowing tests are done to see how bad the swallowing problem is. A speech pathologist will help to make recommendations for any dietary restrictions or guidelines, if needed.
If the patient's swallowing problems are severe, it may be advisable for the patient to not take any food or liquid by mouth. The risk of aspirating may be too high. A feeding tube, inserted into the patient's stomach through the nose, may be needed. This will help to provide adequate nutrition until swallowing function returns.