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Speech and Swallowing Problems

People with Parkinson’s may notice changes in or difficulty with chewing, eating, speaking or swallowing. These changes can happen at any time, but they tend to increase as PD progresses.

The self-assessments below can help you figure out if you have a speech, voice or swallowing problem. Carefully consider the statements. If many of them apply to you, you may need to see a speech-language pathologist (SLP). You should see an SLP if you begin to notice changes in your speech, swallowing or memory, and especially if these changes begin to cause limitations in your life.

How do I know if I have a speech or voice problem?

  • My voice makes it difficult for people to hear me.
  • People have difficulty understanding me in a noisy room. 
  • My voice issues limit my personal and social life. 
  • I feel left out of conversations because of my voice.
  • My voice problem causes me to lose income.
  • I feel as though I have to strain to produce voice.
  • The clarity of my voice is unpredicable.
  • My voice problem upsets me.
  • My voice makes me feel handicapped.
  • People ask, "What's wrong with your voice?"

How do I know if I have a swallowing problem?

  • I have recently lost weight without trying.
  • I tend to avoid drinking liquids.
  • I get the sensation of food being stuck in my throat.
  • I tend to drool.
  • I notice food collecting around my gum line.
  • I tend to cough or choke before, during or after eating or drinking
  • I often have heartburn or a sore throat.
  • I have trouble keeping food or liquid in my mouth. 

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