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Speech & Swallowing Tips for people with Parkinson’s Disease

Speech Pathologists have a significant role in assisting people with Parkinson’s Disease in the areas of communication and swallowing.


According to the National Centre for Voice and Speech, approximately 75-90% of individuals with Parkinson’s Disease have speech and voice disorders at some point in the course of their disease.

How does Parkinson’s Disease affect voice?

· Quiet or weak voice

· Hoarse voice

· Slurred Speech

· Fast Speech

· People with Parkinson’s Disease may feel as though their speech is normal, but people have difficulties understanding them

Speech Tips


· Speak in shorter sentences

· Before you speak, get someone’s attention

· Communicate in a quiet location

· Plan lengthy conversations when you have more energy

· Look at someone when you are talking to them

· Consult with a Speech Pathologist


More than 80 % of patients with Parkinson's disease (PD) develop swallowing difficulties during the course of their disease. Swallowing impairment reduces quality of life, complicates medication intake and leads to malnutrition and aspiration pneumonia, which is a major cause of death in PD.

Signs of swallowing difficulties may include:

· Coughing, throat clearing or choking when you eat or drink

· Swallowing multiple times to get the food down

· Recurrent chest infections

· Food/drink left over in the mouth after swallowing

· A wet sounding voice

· Food/drink leaks from the mouth

Swallowing Tips

· Chew food well before swallowing

· Sip up straight when you eat

· When you swallow food/drink, swallow two times

· Take smaller bites and sips

· Take one sip and bite at a time

· Focus on eating only. Try not to multitask. For example, do not talk or watch TV while eating and drinking

· Don’t use a straw and this can open the airway when you breath in (note: the goal is to protect and close the airway when you swallow). Also, it is difficult to control fluid when it comes in your mouth too quickly

· Swallow pills one at a time with some soft textures such as banana or yogurt

· Consult with a Speech Pathologist


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