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 you take another bite.

  • Take small sips of liquid.

    This can help prevent choking.

  • Divide food into smaller but more frequent meals.

    This can help if eating makes you tired.

  • Eat moist, soft foods.

    Adding liquids such as gravy or sauce to hard-to-chew foods can help you chew them.

  • 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.
  • See a speech therapist.

    They can help you learn how to thicken liquids to the right consistency. Thicker drinks can make swallowing easier. A speech therapist can also provide exercises to 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: May 1, 2023

Author: Healthwise Staff
Clinical Review Board: All Healthwise education is reviewed by a team that includes physicians, nurses, advanced practitioners, registered dieticians, and other healthcare professionals.

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