Harvard Health Letter

Choking alert: Strategies for safe swallowing

Swallowing problems, known as dysphagia, can enable food or liquid to get into the lungs. This can cause pneumonia. Dysphagia may be age-related, or it may be caused by neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease; stroke; mouth or throat cancer; neck injury; or breathing problems. Warning signs include coughing and choking during meals, recurrent lung infections, shortness of breath when eating, and a gurgly sound in the voice. Swallowing therapy can help reduce dysphagia risks, as can strategies such as taking smaller bites, clearing the throat between bites, and tucking the chin to the chest while swallowing.
To continue reading this article, you must login.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »