Stroke often affects swallowing so that individuals have difficulty eating and drinking safely. This may lead to dehydration and malnutrition; there is also a risk that individuals may inhale food or drinks into their lungs, causing a chest infection or breathing problems. Individuals may also have difficulty maintaining good oral hygiene, resulting in discomfort, infection and halitosis.
To recognise the signs that an individual may have swallowing problems. These include: drowsiness, coughing when eating, ‘wet-sounding’ voice or drooling of saliva or foods. They should be able to report any signs that indicate a change in the individual’s condition to the appropriate staff. Staff who are responsible for giving food and/or fluids to individuals should know how and where the individual’s ability to swallow is recorded. These staff should be able to act on recommendations detailed in a swallowing care plan. These may include: altering food and fluid consistencies, utilising feeding utensils, adjusting seating position, delivering oral care to avoid the risks of poor dental health and dental decay including fitting of dentures and supervising specific recommendations. All staff should be able to give appropriate first aid to someone who is choking. Staff should be aware of and report early signs of chest infection and recurring chest infections which may be as a result of swallowing problems and dysphagia.
Benefits to the individuals
Individuals will avoid unnecessary chest infections; they will receive adequate fluids and food, and avoid the consequences of poor oral hygiene.
Page last reviewed: 16 Oct 2020