Offering diagnosis and treatment of communication, hearing, and swallowing disorders
Published: Mar. 17, 2010
Updated: Nov. 3, 2011
Compensatory swallowing techniques are strategies a person can follow while eating and drinking that make swallowing safer and easier. They are often used in combination with a tailored program of swallow exercises but can also be used alone.
The following are some compensatory strategies that may be recommended. It is important to only perform the strategies recommended for you, because if used incorrectly or by the wrong person, these techniques could be potentially harmful.
■ Sitting upright when eating and drinking and for 30 minutes after a meal
■ Changing the position of your head or neck when eating or drinking, including tucking your chin down during a swallow or turning your head to the left or right
■ Clearing your throat or coughing after swallowing to clear the airway
■ Repeated swallows to clear food or liquid left in the throat
■ Using a “liquid wash” -- swallowing liquids after solids to clear food left in the throat
■ Swallowing small bites of food or sips of liquids
■ Using special utensils to make swallowing easier (such as forks with fat handles)
■ Eating smaller, more frequent meals, especially if you get tired easily or have reflux
■ Eliminating troublesome foods from the diet or preparing them in a softer, moister form
■ Taking dietary supplements
■ Timing of eating and drinking with medicine
■ Thickening liquids and pureeing foods as a last resort
If rehabilitative and compensatory strategies are inadequate, decisions about other forms of nutrition may become necessary.