Swallowing Exercises for Patients with Head & Neck Cancer Receiving Radiation Treatment
What you can do to eat, drink and heal during and after your radiation treatment UHN
What do I need to know about my radiation treatment and swallowing problems?
Radiation treatment can cause scarring and stiffening (hardening) of the muscles in the mouth and throat causing them not to function at theirbest. This can cause swallowing problems.
Why is it important to avoid swallowing problems?
Swallowing problems can affect your ability to eat solid food, drink liquids or swallow your own saliva (spit). Being able to eat and drink to keep your body well nourished and hydrated are important during and after your radiation treatment to help you heal. Swallowing problems can become life-long(chronic). They can also cause the following: • Chest infection (pneumonia) • Weight loss • Dehydration (not having enough water in your body) • Needing a feeding tube
Improving health through education
What can I do to reduce my risk of having swallowing problems?
Exercises that help you to keep swallowing will help you maintain your ability to eat and drink and help youreduce swallowing problems that could develop from treatment. These exercises will reduce swallowing problems from treatment even if you require a feeding tube. This pamphlet has 8 exercises that you can do everyday to help you keep your ability to swallow.
How to do your swallowing exercises
• Do each exercise 5-10 times in a row, every hour that you are awake • Do these exercises beforeyou start your treatment, during your treatment, and after your treatment is finished • Sit up straight in a chair and use a mirror while doing the exercises • IMPORTANT: Do not have any food or drink in your mouth while doing these exercises
Please visit the UHN Patient Education website for more health information: www.uhnpatienteducation.ca © 2011 University Health Network. All rightsreserved. This information is to be used for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. A single copy of these materials may be reprinted for non-commercial personal use only.
Author: Andrea Gomes, BSc, MClSc, S-LP (C ) , Reg. CASLPOCreated: 01/2011 Form: D-5631
To see a video on how to do your swallowing exercises, go to www.uhn.on.ca On the top left menu, click on “Patients & Visitors” then “Health Information”. Click on “List of Videos” along the right side of your screen. You can also type this in your internet browser: www.uhn.on.ca/Patients_&_Visitors/health_info/videos/videos.asp
Remember to keepswallowing
• It is important to continue to swallow through the course of your radiation treatment, even if it is just sips of water several times a day. • You may feel very tired and be in pain during your radiation treatment, but try to continue with the exercises as best as you can. Your health care team is here to support you, so ask for help when you need it. Useful Tips:
Sit Upright. How ToMake Your Swallow Stronger
Use a mirror.
Rinse and spit as needed.
Repeat these exercises 5-10 times. Remember to keep your mouth wet!
Stick out the tip of your tongue. Hold it between your teeth or lips.
Now, try to swallow Relax. your spit with your tongue in that position.
Repeat 5 to 10 times.
Press your tongue against the roof of your mouth as hard as you can.With your mouth Relax. closed, swallow your spit (saliva) as hard as you can.
Repeat 5 to 10 times.
Try swallowing some water now
Take a small sip of water and swallow it. You may need to swallow it a few times to get it all down. Clear your throat or cough if you need to.
Keep The Muscles in your Mouth Moving
Open your mouth as big as you can.
Hold for 5 seconds....
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