ALS From Both Sides, ALS Patient Care
ALS From Both Sides
Care of an ALS Patient
By Diane Huberty, Retired RN, Certified Neuro Nurse
...and ALS Patient

Choking: Variations on a Theme

It’s not uncommon in ALS for something to unexpectedly and abruptly aggravate your airway and throw you into a choking fit. I know from personal experience that these choking, gagging, gasping spells are physically exhausting, frustrating and extremely unnerving for both the choker and the caregiver. The actions to take for choking depend on the type of choking spell you’re having. For example:

Advice to Caregivers: In any choking situation, fake being calm and quickly go through a list of possible actions. Ask, “Do you need a Heimlich? Assisted cough? A drink? Cough medicine? Suction?”

Besides the physical and emotional stress of a choking attack, the real danger of suffocation and the loss of calories due to fear of eating, choking can lead to aspiration, in which food or pills go into the lungs and cause life-threatening pneumonia.

Prevention is the key here. Go to Swallowing

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