I have been having swallowing problems. Its not a certain type of food, its all kinds. I even have problems even when I am not in a hurry.

Its like the food gets stuck and my digestive system hurts. It gets better in a little while.

Do you have problems like this?



There are food thickeners out there, there is one product called Thick-it.

A physical therapist might have ideas that you can do to help you swallow, like tucking in your chin.

And try to avoid other things while you are eating and chewing food.


Could be ataxia related but could also be reflux so best to consult GP.

I am prescribed Omeprozole which does the trick for me and is usually prescribed if you are on anti inflammatory pills.


Hey Bella,

I have been diagnosed with dysphasia, which means discoordinated swallowing, which, to me, means it's hard to get some things to go down. There are levels of this and, as I understand it, this is very common in ataxia.

Tell your neurologist! Ask if he can refer you to a speech therapist that can do swallow studies. They are usually at hospitals. The therapist can show you exactly what is going on. They can give you a diet, suggest a thickener if needed, so you some tricks to make swallowing easier, and even do electrical stimulation on your throat as you swallow (not too painful but a bit strange). They often suggest having your esophagus stretched (not bad at all. They put you to sleep).

Anyway, you shouldn't mess around with this. If you are having trouble, you could aspirate (take food into your lungs). That's not good!

So follow up right away. My dysphasia hasn't gone away or gotten better, but I can deal with it much better by controlling my diet and using tricks from the speech therapist.

One more note: after your test, make sure you find a speech therapist trained in swallow therapy. If not, you'll end up sitting in a room saying "o o o o o o o " and "ah ah ah ah". You get the picture!

Hope this helps!


Hi bella, my whole family have had swallowing problems. now with just my and my sister her situation with swallowing is worse then mine, althought I do choke on my food occasionally all types of food, ppl say if u slow down, I do and still choke I can’t win.

Hi Bella,

I agree with Jim, you need to tell your nerologist about this. You can get help from a PT, it won't go away, but you can learn some changes that will help you. Your swallowing and voice muscles weaken just like your other muscles.

Some days, I have to take a small bite, then a sip of water and repeat with every bite, it depends on what I'm eating. I have aspirated twice and that was scary enough to make me straighten up and eat like I was shown to!

Tell us what your doctor says, I'm always interested in learning more!

Take care,


I notice at times my saliva is thick. And Ill chock even if I don't have food in my mouth. I think it has more to do with swallowing. We definitely have a swallowing issue. Has far as chocking on food. I think everyone does. But I do know our swallowing is different. Because my doctor is watching that. I do get heart burn more now. But I thought that was a part of getting old. lol

Hi Bella - I have to eat certain foods slower - those that have different textures like oranges. Some foods I just need to not indulge in - like tomatoes and onions…which pretty much blows because I like both of these.

Although I don’t need to thicken food, I at-one-point needed to thicken any drink to be more than water-thick. This was decided formally after I had a few MBS /swallow studies where they x-ray your esophogus(?) as I swallowed.

I tend to over-chew things, take a super-long time to eat, and always have a beverage of some sort with me whenever I eat.

My mom has had problems with this too. Have you had any luck with food thickeners? My mom seems to avoid certain foods. I also notice that the problem seems to come and go. I think that therapists can help with this and the thickeners too. Good luck. I wish there was something to wipe out this disease once and for all. Please take care.

Hi, I'm Martha. I have problems if I either put too much in my mouth or I don't chew it enough and I gag on my self. I have found some foods that I have gotten use to that my husband prepares for me that are easier such as Idaho packaged potatoes, packaged rice and he smashes my baked potatoes before I eat them, I can eat cooked vegetables and spinach salads with cottage cheese in it, etc. I have also noticed that my post nasal drip is more frequent now and I cough alot and have trouble with it more. Mrs. Martha Wilson-Harris


Hi Bella

I do have something, that is part of many Ataxia's, called Dysphagia. It is manageable with the correct treatments. It often, in my case, means I have trouble swallowing, a persistent cough (in my case) and a feeling that food gets stuck in my throat. I am not saying this is what you have but it is manageable with the proper treatment and medications, so it would do you no harm to get this double checked by a qualified doctor. If it is diagnosed then you will get guided by his/her advice!

I have just noticed the comment made by Jim Steele and I agree that a swallow study plus other guidance from a speech therapist is the usual way things go, once you have been referred by your Doctor to the hospital (as I was)!

Kind regards

Charlie (by the way my Ataxia is SCA8)

I agree with others. Tell your neurologist, who will refer you to the proper therapist. Ataxia causes problems with swallowing food and liquid. I have trouble with this also. Sometimes I choke on my own saliva. I cough a lot too. I’ve seen a speech therapist a few times, and she was very helpful with hints to make eating, drinking and swallowing easier. Tucking your chin when drinking liquids was one suggestion that has helped me! ;o)

Choking and swallowing problems are symptoms of ataxia. People with ataxia have muscle coordination problems. Swallowing involves the muscles of the throat to be in coordination in order to allow proper swallowing. If your ataxia affects those muscles then you will have problems swallowing foods of all kinds like in your case. Those were my first symptoms when my ataxia started. It can be scary and make life miserable. I had treatment from a speech therapist but it did not help much. I was then prescribed a powder called 'Thick & Easy' to mix with my food. It can be mixed with liquids although you can add it to other food as well. It does not make your food very enjoyable though. Imagine putting this powder in a cup of tea or coffee. Soups and some juices or smoothies are fine. You have no choice if you need to survive. The powder can be added to supplements or other nourishment. I can say that my knowledge and experience as a Clinical Hypnosis helped me a lot to overcome this problem, although I still keep some powder at hand in case of emergency. I have developed a technique that has helped a lot of people with swallowing and speech problems. I would strongly advise you to get help from your local speech therapist first. They may have other means of overcoming the problem in the US. I wish you well. You can contact me if you need more advice. I have been there and know how it feels like. Best Wishes.

Hi Bella,

do you mean that it causes you pains after having swallowed,when the food runs down the esophagus? This could be an esophageal stricture.

Just what Jim Steele said: "They often suggest having your esophagus stretched (not bad at all. They put you to sleep). "

This could be a solution of the problem, when it is situated in the esophagus.

In my situation get this pain after swallowing only seldom. I did also a swallowing study - 2 years ago, but the results where not extreme.. So nothing happened after the study. Last autumn i have been diagnosed with a small duodenal ulcer. I also have a sort of reflux, - which i do not notice , ph 7. This reflux is dangerous for the esophagus, for the lungs (asthma) and my voice. I took pantoprazole a proton pump inhibitor for some weeks till christmas. As my General Practicioner learned about my reflux, he prescribed be Sucralfan/Ulcogant which is also good for this sort of reflux. I am happy with this. My feeling in the stomach much better than with pantopazole. Next week i will do a second gastroscopy/coloscopy for control of my duodenal ulcer and my esophageal situation. Hopefully your state will improve. This is not allowed to have pains after swallowing!

Kind regards,


I have had the same experience as Jim. Get your neuro to send you to a speech pathologist. I have been twice to deal with both speech and swallowing. She is great and educates you well.


HI Bella !

I just read your swallowing issues..

I would like to know if anyone has any of these things that are happening to me.

When at a meal or taking my pills ,it is like it goes down the wrong place , I cough

&cough. I get a pain in my chest .and it feels like it is stuck somewhere but not my

throat. This hasn't happened for a couple of weeks.

Also, I waken during the night because I can't swallow and my throat & mouth are are very

dry. I used to pull a build up saliva into my mouth and swallow.slowly . Now I jump out of

bed and get drink.

Does this sound like it too could be part of my ataxia?

Thank You all,


Hi Mary, my family had the same problem, now with me n my sister my sister suffers with choking as food goes down her wind pipe, so she has resulted in eating slowly , and keep a drink close by…

Hi Mary-Elena, Ataxia causes swallowing/choking issues for some people. This happens to me, although I don't have pain when I swallow/cough. My mouth gets very dry when I sleep, but I have sleep apnea and use a C-Pap machine or a mouth appliance, so my situation is different than yours. My advice is to talk with your doctor (neurologist/GP) regarding the pain you experience. It may be related to reflux in someway (?). I eat very slowly, chew my food throughly and drop my head/chin when I drink sips of liquid. Best wishes..., ;o)

I know this is old but I am so glad I have found this.

I just had a MBS and the speech therapist said my swallowing mechanics was ok but something was wrong with my brain that was making me choke.

In 2012 was really bad. I started juicing all my food because the choking was scary. I learned that I need to drink all liquids with a straw and not to move my head back. Eating with your chin down is good.

I still have trouble swallowing pills and stuff so I put them in applesauce and then swallow.