Are you at risk for aspiration pneumonia?

Aspiration pneumonia happens when food, saliva, liquids or vomit are breathed into lungs instead of being swallowed into the stomach. Older adults, stroke survivors and people with conditions like dementia, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis or cerebral palsy have a higher risk of getting aspiration pneumonia.

Prevent aspiration pneumonia:

  • Alternate solid and liquid foods, and allow some rest between mouthfuls.

  • Avoid medicines that may cause drowsiness, which can increase difficulties with swallowing or coughing.

  • Eat slowly, and take small bites.

  • Practice good oral hygiene, especially after eating, to remove food particles and to help prevent a buildup of bacteria in the mouth.

  • Rest for 30 minutes after eating.

  • See a speech therapist or swallow therapist.

  • Sit upright when eating.

Sources: MedlinePlus,