Parkinson's Disease: Eating and Drooling Problems

Overview

Eating problems

Parkinson's disease can affect many of the muscles used for chewing and swallowing. This can make it hard for you to eat.

Here are some things you can do to help reduce eating problems.

  • Sit upright when eating, drinking, and taking pills.
  • Take small bites of food.

    Chew each bite completely, and swallow it before taking another bite.

  • Take small sips of liquid.

    Hold them in your mouth as you prepare to swallow.

  • Divide food into smaller but more frequent meals.

    This can help if eating makes you tired.

  • Try thicker drinks to make swallowing easier.

    For example, try milk shakes or thickened juice.

  • Eat moist, soft foods.

    Use a blender to prepare food for easier chewing.

  • Avoid foods such as crackers or cakes that crumble easily.

    They can cause choking.

  • If you cough or choke, lean forward and keep your chin tipped downward while you cough.
  • Ask a speech therapist about exercises.

    These can help you strengthen the muscles of your mouth.

Drooling

Parkinson's disease can affect many of the muscles used for swallowing. It may make it hard for you to swallow saliva. This can lead to drooling.

Here are some things you can do to help.

  • Keep your chin up and your lips closed.

    Do this whenever you aren't speaking or eating.

  • Swallow often.

    Do this especially before you start to speak.

  • Ask a speech therapist about exercises.

    They can help strengthen your lip muscles.

  • Ask your doctor about medicines that can help.

Credits

Current as of: December 13, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Anne C. Poinier MD - Internal Medicine
Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
G. Frederick Wooten MD - Neurology

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