Anyone who has ever had the frightening experience of swallowing something ‘down the wrong pipe’ knows that it probably could have been avoided, but how? Actually, if you think about what you were doing when you began choking, you probably will also know what you could have done differently. But what if you are a caregiver to an elderly parent, for example. Do you know what the common causes of aspiration are and how to avoid them? Let’s look at a few of them so you can avoid these situations.
1. Taking Bites That Are Too Large
This is perhaps one of the most common causes of aspiration as evidenced by just how many times someone has begun choking in a restaurant. Sometimes even the Heimlich maneuver isn’t enough to dislodge food that’s gone down the esophagus, so it’s better to prevent it by taking smaller bites. If you are caring for an elderly patient who can still manage to cut their own food, always check to make sure they are cutting their bites small enough to be easily chewed and swallowed.
2. Inability to Swallow Medications with Water
Believe it or not, this is a very common cause of aspiration in the elderly and for younger people as well! Some capsules are so large that no matter how large a drink we take, they simply get lodged in the throat. While it is often possible to crush a pill and feed it with applesauce, for example, capsules are often filled with gel and there is no way to crush them up. This is where a product like Simply Thick comes in handy. You can mix it with just about any liquid to get a gel consistency, which then makes it easy to swallow even those ‘horse pills’ as we like to call oversize capsules. You can even mix a liquid to result in a pudding-like consistency, which can be easily swallowed. Find what works best and that is what you’ll do whenever administering that particular medication they have trouble swallowing.
3. Talking and Eating at the Same Time
As a little child, you must remember your mom saying, “Don’t talk with your mouth full.” At the time you probably thought it was simply a manners thing or perhaps, so you didn’t spit food all over the place while talking with your mouth full. Moms knew the real issue and that would be aspirating when you took a breath to continue talking. The obvious solution here is to wait until you swallow before trying to talk.
There are other common causes of aspirating such as trying to eat or drink when laying down. However, there are also medical conditions that make it difficult to swallow and can lead to aspiration as well. From elders trying to eat solid foods without teeth to literally anyone trying to talk with their mouth full, it is always important to concentrate on what you are doing so that you lessen the risk of aspiration. It is more common than you might think, so eat and drink with care.