MND may affect someone’s ability to swallow and breathe, and this can lead to choking episodes. People with MND rarely choke on food. Choking episodes usually occur because of secretions that trickle down the throat, due to weakness in the muscles which help us swallow, and this can cause a sensation of not being able to breathe.
In this video, using the voices of real carers and family members, we share their experiences of dealing with choking.
There are a number of things, as a carer or loved one, that you can do to help when someone with MND is having a choking episode, until the sensation passes:
Inform your MND Clinical Specialist and/or Speech and Language Therapist (SLT) that this is happening as there may be things they can do to help. The MND Clinical Specialist may be able to provide aids such as suction units, nebulisers and medication, whereas the SLT can suggest different approaches to eating/drinking in addition to diet/fluid modifications where appropriate.
If the episode continues for longer than usual, medication is not working and the person with MND is very distressed, you can call 999. It is also important to ensure you tell the ambulance controller that the person has MND so they can treat them appropriately, and that you have any care information e.g. DNR (do not resuscitate), to hand.
If you have more questions, please talk to your local MND Clinical Specialist and/or SLT.
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