Watch out for warning signs:
Some signs can go unnoticed!
- Refusal to eat or drink; slow to eat or drink
- Sudden weight loss
To ensure daily hydration, the following should be considered:
- The importance of the patient’s posture to avoid blocking the windpipe when swallowing: the carer should be at the same height as the patient who should be seated with trunk straight, head lowered and chin tucked in.
- Stimulation with sparkling or fizzy water, acidity or temperature variations (hot or cold) affects swallowing and helps avoid food or drink “going down the wrong way”. Cold drinks with a pronounced taste and strong smell help to swallow quickly and hard.
- Thicker liquids run into the throat slowly, leaving the larynx time to close and tasty substances are more likely to trigger swallowing. Thickness and taste both have a positive effect on swallowing and help avoid choking.
Food texture should also be adapted to maintain intake and prevent malnutrition. A texture-modified diet may be necessary, depending on the degree of dysphagia:
- Purée texture: smooth consistency for both meat and vegetables; they can be mixed together or separated on the plate (the grains do not exceed 0.1 cm).
- Thick purée texture: meat is minced, vegetables are mashed or very tender; meat and vegetables are separated on the plate (the grains do not exceed 0.2 cm).
- Minced texture: meat and vegetables are minced and separated on the plate (the grains do not exceed 0.3 cm).
- Mashed texture: only meat is minced, except if the protein element is tender (the grains do not exceed 0.5 cm).