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

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Patient 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 helpyou reduce 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 exercisesbefore you 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 [continua]

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