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Having cough while eating and also sneezing. What can be done?

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General & Family Physician
Practicing since : 2009
Answered : 6180 Questions
my 96 year old mother usually has coughing episode while eating. She coughs and then she sneezes and has to blow h I feel sorry for her. Is there anything I can do?er nose and clear her throat. She takes over the counter Prilosec once a day.
Posted Sat, 19 Oct 2013 in Lung and Chest disorders
Answered by Dr. Chobufo Ditah 1 hour later
Brief Answer:
Check her swallowing

Detailed Answer:
Hi and thank you so much for this query.

I am so sorry to hear about what your grandmother is going through.

From the information you have provided, this very much represents a poor coordination of the swallowing reflex which allows food particles /water drops into the airways provoking the cough reflex to get this out of the windpipe. This can easily predispose her to developing aspiration pneumonia. Besides, is she getting her regular yearly flu shots? Hope so

I am afraid there is very little you can do all by yourself. Her age is the main contributing factor to this and we cannot change it. The next best thing is to visit a neurologist and find out if there is any other cause like a brain injury or nerves injury that causes this. If no cause is found, then maybe talking with a speech therapist may help her improve on her coordination during swallowing and keep these symptoms under controlled.

All in all, I am afraid very little can be done unless a correctable cause is identified. If it is age linked, then am sorry there are very little options left.

Hope this addresses your query fully. Feel free to ask follow up questions for clarifications if need be. Thanks and wish her well.
Dr. Ditah, MD
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