Feeding and Swallowing Clinic

Signs of Aspiration

Aspiration means that food or liquid is going down the "wrong way", into the airway and possibly all the way into the lungs.

When food accidentally gets into the airway, most people cough until the food has been cleared from the airway. However, children and adults with certain medical conditions and diagnoses may not be able to cough or may not feel the food or liquid going into the airway. They are called "silent aspirators."

When food or liquid penetrates the airway and gets into the lungs, pneumonia can result.

Possible Signs of Aspiration:

       
  • Coughing, choking, gasping, wheezing during or after eating or drinking
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  • Breathing disruptions (apnea) during meals
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  • Choking on saliva
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  • Congestion after meals
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  • Chronic congestion
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  • Chronic low grade fever
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  • Frequent episodes of pneumonia
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