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Problems Eating After Stroke
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Problems Eating After Stroke

My 66 year old mother had a stroke in October 2010. While still in the hospital and then rehab, they said she passed the swallow test and put her on solid foods. By November she said she didn't have an appetite and would only eat baby food or ensure nutritional shakes, and whenever she did eat something her stomach would rumble loudly. Before the stroke she was diagnosed with GERD so I thought perhaps this was contributing to the problem. Unfortunately, since that time she's struggled with poor nutrition to the point of needing to be hospitalized for dehydration and low potassium levels etc. As a result, she went for a barium swallow test and had a lot of difficulty swallowing it down but was able to do it. Results were that digestion was functioning properly.  So, she continued taking nexium and seemed to show some improvement to the point where she could eat soft foods like baked potato, peas, soft fruits without any trouble. Last week she started complaining that it feels like her food will not travel down to her stomach --gets stuck in her chest area. She refused to eat and only took sips of water for two days so back to the hospital she went because she insists that they isn't any room for food or drink.  In addition to GERD, she also has really bad constipation. She can go 4 or 5 days without eliminating or maybe she can get out only a few "rabbit" turds. They gave her an enema, but could only get in half the water before it started shooting back out. The next day an endoscopy was performed with the results showing only minor irritation to the stomach. Doc did mention that her throat muscles looked weak and that she may be referred to a speech pathologist. After endoscope she felt immediate relief. No more feeling like the liquid or food was caught. That night she was able to get down 2 cups of water, jello, and noodles.  However, the next morning she said the feeling was starting to return.  She has appt to see a speech pathologist because we really need answers. Since October she has lost 40 pounds. Has anyone experienced this "no room to eat/drink" feeling or know of someone who is experiencing this after a stroke?
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1346447_tn?1327866172
My wife do not have teeth. She neer used dentures. After stroke she had swallowing problem. She also vomitted. She had problem with semi solid food too. Probably her Na and Cl levels were affected. She was given NaCL capsules before food. That solved her problem. She is 70. She had dementia. She prefers liquid foods. Please consult your doctor on these points. In case of my wife her speech is not affected.
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Avatar_f_tn
Thanks for input. Went to see a speech therapist the other day and confirmed that she is having difficulty swallowing. Learned some new techniques to help with this, but she will certainly need therapy.
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1633797_tn?1300034398
My stroke was in Dec. and for the last 6 weeks, I have had trouble with food.  I feel as if it is stuck in my throat.  I only drink liquids and have lost 20 pounds.  I go to a nuerologist on Thurs.  I also have a bad post nasal drip and I think when that is resolved, food won't be such an issue.

Thanks for posting.  I thought I was the only one with this problem.
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Avatar_f_tn
I had a carotid artery stroke 3 years ago and lost over 50 lbs in 3 months from a previous weight of 165 lbs at 5'9".  My BMI was below normal.  I have never gotten my appetite back.  A friend of mine had a different stroke and related that she has never had the same appetite.

I was coughing up water while drinking and had the full swallowing tests which came back that nothing was wrong.  I also had GERD problem before stroke. Currently having trouble swallowing my pills and am told by my gastro specialist that I need to have another endoscopy to "dilate" or stretch out my esophagus.

Also I have had constipation since my stroke and need Miralex every other day and Benefiber every day which takes care of things.
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Avatar_f_tn
Hello everyone. This is a follow-up on my mother's progress. Therapy with the speech pathologist helped a great deal. She learned new techniques for swallowing effectively and over time she has been able to strengthen her throat muscles. Initially, she didn't like the idea of going to therapy but came around as she saw how she benefited from it.  She still doesn't have the same appetite prior to stroke. Some of her old favorites, even certain soft stuff, just doesn't appeal to her. I guess her tastebuds were rewired somewhat. Now, she absolutely loves alfredo fetuccini pasta and before she rarely ate pasta. Go figure! Anyhow, she eats smaller meals and drinks water and nutritional beverages. Her BMI is holding in a healthy place and miralax helps with the constipation. All in all, I'm happy that I kept pursuing answers and the care she needed...which included finding a new primary doctor.  

Prior to the 2nd speech pathologist evaluation, my mother's doctor had come to the conclusion that her swallowing and physical complaints were pyschological. She felt there was no other explanation since she passed the initial swallow test in October and the endoscopy test came back good. Her solution was to offer a prescription for antidepressants. Then, she went on to warn that if mom didn't start eating heavier meals, like sandwiches, she was a risk of being placed in a nursing home. How this doctor didn't know that dysphagia problems can develop weeks, even months after the initial stroke, I do not know. I realize the primary doctor isn't a neurologist, but come on.

At any rate, the SP diagnosed and corrected the problem and once she finished the therapy sessions, I found new primary doctor for mom. One who has been able to put her on a regimen that actually controls her BP successfully. No need for antidepressants at all. So, don't be deterred from seeking answers if you feel something is off, and don't be afraid to ask for an evauationl with a specialist or find a different care provider if it's absolutely necessary. God bless you all.
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1346447_tn?1327866172
In case of my wife for her eating problems I put her first on liquid diet then semi solid and last on solid but soft food. For swallowing tablets some time to crush the tablet some time make two pieces of tablet. For solid food give small chunks.Some dry solid foods with water or some liquid. In this field i have to use my common sense no advice from doctor. Hoe this information will be useful.
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