A to Z of MS
Click on the relevant link for more information on a topic.
A to Z of MS Swallowing problems
Difficulty swallowing (also known as dysphagia) is not regarded as a common symptom of multiple sclerosis, but studies have found that around a third of people with MS experience swallowing difficulties to some degree.
In MS, problems with swallowing can be caused by damage affecting the coordination of the various muscles involved. This can be in any of the stages of swallowing, the oral (mouth), pharyngeal (throat) or oesophageal phase. The result can be difficulty chewing, pocketing food in the cheek, fluid escaping from the moth, or episodes of coughing or choking when eating or drinking.
A speech and language therapist will be able to assess how well someone is swallowing. Following this the therapist can advise on posture, consistencies of food, amounts, eating environment and possible exercises.
If the swallowing problems are more advanced and eating is putting the individual at risk, nutrition can be provided through a procedure called percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG).
Poorjavad M, et al.
Oropharyngeal dysphagia in multiple sclerosis
Multiple Sclerosis 2010;16(3):362-365
Calcagno P, et al.
Dysphagia in multiple sclerosis - prevalence and prognostic factors.
Acta Neurolica Scandinavica 2002;105(1):40-43.