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Distinguished member
Mar 17, 2005
I know that I have posted about my dad choking before, but I have another choking question. I guess what my dad has been choking on is water, not necessarily food. Someone had mentioned a thickening agent that you can put into water. Does anyone remember what it is called? And, for those of you out there who do choke on water, what is the best way to get the water down? Does coughing help or swallowing a bunch? My dad says he can breathe still but he gets very panicked and starts pacing when it happens. My mom hits him on the back, tells him to tilt his head down, drink something else to get the substance down, etc., but nothing really seems to work. My mom said that the last time this happened, it took about 10 minutes before he was o.k. again. I told her that the next time it happens, just try to get dad to relax his throat so the water can slide down better. I don't know if my "doctorly" advice will help or work, but I don't know what else to say. Dad is now nervouse to drink water with pills and hardly drinks any water throughout the day. Is there another liquid that he could be drinking that will keep him hydrated other than water? Would carbonation from sparkling water or soda help? I'm hoping you all might have some sound advice, and someone might know what he could be adding to the water to thicken it up, and/or find a different liquid to be drinking all together. Thanks for the help.
Hi Dana. Has your dad tried Orange juice. It's a bit thicker and slippier and might help with sliding things down. Most people throw their heads back to swallow pills but they go down easier if you put them in your mouth with a drink but not a full mouth full and tilt your head back and quickly throw your head forward and swallow as you go forward. I find this works for me. Maybe some of the others that have bulbar symptoms might be able to offer better advice.
Hi Dana,
Hope I can help a little bit. There is a thickener called "Thicken Up" made by Novartus of Minneapolis, Minnesotsa. I have used it, but to tell the truth thickened water or juice are not my favorite things! That's just me. You can also make a homemade thichener using plain Knox gelatin. If you want it , I can give the recipe to you.
I do not drink much water or anything now, because I have a feeding tube. When I do have a drink, I find the best way is to go slow and tuck my chin in. I could not put my head back like Al does, or I would choke for sure. I find that water and other liquids go into my lungs quicker than anything. I do have a lot of shakes, made very thick and I also make them with Carnation Instant Breakfast Anytime, which gives lots of calories and nutrition and some liquids. But, your father still needs water and hydration. Apart from tomato juice, prune nector, there is little I could drink. I do drink a very warm cup of tea each day in which I dunk a piece of brown bread. I know, sound yucky but we will do what we have to do to get some enjoyment! I don't know if the tea being warm helps with the choaking or not, but I can drink it slowly.
In answer to a post you made on August 5, "My dad choaked again", Patsy answered with a discription of how she eats and what happens to her. It is also what happens to me. There is not a piece of food blocking my windpipe but rather the irritation as she describes. I find trying to be very calm (easier said that done) works best. So, your advice was very good! Getting a piece of food lodged would be worse, and you might need the Heimlech manoeuver then. Guess you should not touch anyone unless they can no longer speak or make a sound.
Has your father tried his pills crushed in yogart instead of with water?
Has he ever had a Videoflouroscopic done? That would give him an idea of what was going on with his swallowing and some advice on things to do. I have had a couple of them done.
I have my first report here, which was a year ago, and they say "while dringking liquids assume a slight chin tuck(ie, head bent down slightly towards chest.)" Also "eat slowly and decrease distractions during meals", "alternate solids with liquids." Those are the main things they suggested.
This has been a long ramble, hope it is of some help. Let us know how you make out. I still pray for your Dad. You are such a blessing to him and to your Mom, I am sure.
Thanks Al and Granny. I really appreciate your advice and quick response. I will tell my dad about taking his pills with the yogert. Right now they are crushing them and putting them in a very small amount of water, which tastes lovely I am sure! The yogert would be a much better option. I will also remind him about the chin tuck. I shared that with him before, and I know that when he is choking, he tries that. But, I don't know if it is too late by that point to try and tilt the chin down when he is already in a choking episode. Choking is the the most scary thing. My son (who is now a year and a half) choked a couple of times when he was learning to eat, and I swear my heart almost stopped beating for a second. Now seeing my dad going through it, I get that nervous feeling all over again. Anytime he eats, I always have an eye on him to make sure he is o.k. Once again, I appreciate the help. I really enjoy being a part of this forum. You all make me laugh and help ease some nerves. Thanks! :)
PS- Granny-I would love your recipe for the home-made thickening agent. You never know, my dad might like it.
Hi Dana,

I would like to suggest that you get a swallowing assessment done on your dad. The therapists have all kinds of tricks and help to offer for every level of decreasing swallow flex. Henry had several swallowing assessmens done through the years, and we modified as we went on. Their help was great. Although, when you are in choking mode, somehow, all of that advice goes to the wayside. As long as he is prompted and drinking thicker fluids that shoud help. It is so scary watching someone choke. I did it many, many times. I learned to keep a cool head, and talk Henry through it. My first question to him every time was, can you get air? As long as he could, I would calmly talk to him. I found sometimes holding his chin in my hand helped him out. His neck was so weak that he concentrated so much in holding his head up that he would panic more, and could not seem to concentrate on swallowing properly. Before Henry went on the feeding tube, we also put his pills in yogart. Yummy! However, they went down okay. Contact your doctor to get in touch with a Therapist to do a swallowing assessment and see where he stands. This could be of some help.
How is he with food? Are you still on solid food? Hope that everything is going okay with you and your family. It is a hard road, I know, but, you will find the strength and support from everyone to get through it all. Have a great night......

Love, Carol
You are such a strong woman Carol! The thought of you holding your husband's chin in your hands as he choked almost makes me want to cry. This disease is not easy is it? It is really tough seeing the panic in my dad's eyes when an episode occurs. He wants to be so strong for all of us, and I want him to be strong for all of us too. It is hard to see him in a weak moment. He is doing all right with food. He has not had a feeding tube put in. He had the swallowing analysis done, and it came out looking good. My mom is going to have it done again though. They only did one test, and since it came out good, they did not do any more. She is going to have that revisited. I told my mom about the yogart idea, and she was going to try that tonight. I'm sure it will taste much better than just crushing the meds into a little bit of water.

On a lighter note, my dad has been practicing his speech behind closed doors. :D My mom caught him practicing reading aloud in his office. He said that he had been doing it for the past couple of days. Sneaky little thing! I think it gives him a little more confidence when he is talking to others, knowing that he has practiced in private. I do think his speech has improved slightly over the past month. We might look into getting him a speech pathologist.

Please continue praying for us. I really think it helps.
Hi Dana,
Here is the recipe for the Gelatin Thickener.

8 tsp plain Knox gelatin powder
1/2 cup cold water

1. Sprinkle gelatin on cold water. To avoid lumps, allow genlatin to
completely absorb water.
2. Heat gelatin mixture in microwave (60 seconds on high) or on stove
until completely dissolved.
3. Pour liquid onto a container(size about 4"x4"). Chill until set.
4. Cut into 8 even blocks. Store covered in refrigerator.
If any unused after 3 days, throw away.

Hope your dad is doing ok, and able to enjoy the long weekend. We are supposed to have a sunny one. Tomorrow night 80,000 fans will be going to see the Rolling Stones less than two hours from our home. We are not going! 80,000 people in an open field! If any die hard Stones fans are out there, I guess some tickets are still available, people bought up extras and now can't sell them. Must be some of you pilots out there that could fly in:)
Hi Dana! My husband does not drink water too often because it is too thin. He does real good on nectar drinks, they are thicker and tasty too.
Small bites of his food also helps.
Hope all is well, hope you have a great weekend!

I am going to try to get my husband to try the yogurt. Good tip Carol!

Praying for a cure,
Hi Granny,

If I could get there to see the Stones one more time, I would be there. I am a die hard Stones fan, but really guys, hang it up, you are too old to be acting like a bunch of twenty year olds. As if they need the money. Anyway, the must get Satisfaction out of still playing, no matter how old they are. And as they say, a rolling stone gathers no moss.! I say, there is lots of grey hair under the moss. Have a good long weekend all

Love, Carol
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