Kennedys Disease Community
Swallowing exercise?

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02-03-2006, 03:22 PM
KDA Adminstrator
Swallowing exercise?
I saw a TV show the other day where they were showing an exercise to help in being able to swallow food easier. This exercise was for patients that had had throat surgery and the muscles became weak after the surgery. It is to strengthen the swallowing muscles. I do not know if it will help for KD but it is worth the try.

There are 2 exercises;

1. Stick your toung out and bit down slowly on the tounge to hold it in the out position. then swallow 10 times while holding that tounge between the teeth. Do this numerous times a day.

2. make the sound EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE on and off and you will feel the neck and throat muscles stretch.

They reported good results on patients that had swallowing problems with food.
08-02-2009, 11:24 PM
Dan B
There are many exercises to improve swallowing. Difficulty in swallowing is known by the medical term "dysphagia", pronounced diss-FAY-ja, and it is caused by many conditions such as throat surgery, stroke, etc. If you do an Internet search on the words "dysphagia exercise" you will get many hits.

By far the best swallowing exercise, and the easiset to do, is called the "Shaker Exercise" named after the doctor who invented it. To do it, you lie flat on your back and then pick up your head and look at your toes. That will strengthen the throat muscles. There is an excellent explanation and video at

I have done this exercise myself and have had very good results with improving swallowing and reducing larnygospasm ("dry drowning"). I recommend it to all KD patients who are having any difficulty with swallowing.

This message has been edited. Last edited by: Dan B,
08-02-2009, 11:27 PM
Dan B
Forgot to mention, there is an excellent list of swallowing / dysphagia exercises at

Note that page is intended for stroke patients, but the exercises work equally well for KD patients. Also note the Shaker Exercise is the first one on the list.
08-04-2009, 10:48 AM
Dan, this is great. I appreciate you providing this link.
11-28-2011, 02:38 PM
Dan B
I am now doing both the Shaker exercise and another one called the Mendelsohn maneuver. Both these exercises were devised by doctors and speech pathologists, and they were originally intended to be used by stroke survivors. However, they work fine for me as a person with SBMA. My incidents of choking and laryngospasm (dry-drowning) have been reduced since I have been doing them.

The advantage of the Mendelsohn maneuver is you can do it anywhere, even while waiting at a red light or in line at the supermarket. The Shaker exercise requires you to be lying flat on your back, which obviously limits the number of times and places you can do it.

Both exercises are explained on this web page:

One more thing: I have noticed my swallowing difficulties are much worse when my nose and sinuses are congested, either due to a cold or seasonal allergies. I believe this is due to a "post-nasal drip," that is, gunk dripping out of my sinuses and down my throat, hitting the larynx. Taking an antihistamine/decongestant combination (such as Allegra-D or Claritin-D) helps.

This message has been edited. Last edited by: Dan B,
11-28-2011, 06:02 PM
Mike Murphy
I have used all these with good results and wanted to add something very simple. Tucking your chin in towards your chest (do not have to contact chest) when swallowing will open the throat up more to ease passage.
04-30-2012, 07:55 AM
Hello every one .I am new to this forum .I want some information for my grand father.he is now 70 years and suffering from the same .Did he also do such things.

This message has been edited. Last edited by: Bruce,
05-07-2012, 09:11 PM
Dan, just printed out the suggested exercises. Bob is dry drowning more and more often, sometimes a couple times an hour while trying to sleep. Will this help that problem?

Is anyone using a CPAP for the night choking where you can't breathe? A friend recommended last night that Bob take a generic mucinex at night to allow him to cough up phlegm. He said to take a Benadyl in the morning. Will start trying this tonight as neither of us is getting a sound sleep. I fear Bob moving into another room and then I will not hear him, doing everything I can to keep him in our room!

We can by a generic mucinex (Major Brand) through CIGNA, sometimes they run a 25% off too! Works great for colds.

God is the greatest physician of all.
05-08-2012, 01:01 PM
Mucinex is helpful when you have a lot of phlegm. Mucinex is an over-the-counter product and very reasonable.

Since I sleep on my back, I find that sleeping with an elevated head and shoulders also helps. I use a 12" foam wedge.
05-08-2012, 01:45 PM
He has a lot of phlegm. Took it last night and didn't seem to have as many "episodes." He took a second one at 3:30am.

A lot of times, the change in breathing will awake me and I say, "your gonna choke!" Sure enough, it happens. I can't describe the change I hear but waking him up seems to avert a worse situation.

God is the greatest physician of all.
05-14-2012, 11:12 AM
Bob Heitzman
As Bruce mentioned raising the head of the bed helped me. I use a "hospital" bed mechanism so I can control the elevation.

Bob may also be experiencing acid reflux which may be the trigger. You might see if the suggestions in the article help.

In my case I started using omeprazole (Prilosec) which does the trick for me. Package insert indicates two week limit but my doc prescribed continuous use.

My symptoms reduced significantly when I achieved some weight loss.

I can still have problems if I sleep flat on my back.

I found using a "side sleepers" pillow avoids neck pain - most big stores carry them.

email:rheitzman at gmail
05-14-2012, 01:30 PM
Bob, yes he does have acid reflux among a couple other things and does take the omeprazole. I'll have to ask him if he IS taking one at bedtime or not.

The episodes have REALLY decreased after he started using the mucinex at night. So nice for both of us. Still once or twice a night but at least not a couple times an hour.
05-21-2012, 10:35 AM
Bob Heitzman
Omeprazole is not fast acting - I believe it conditions the body to reduce acid production, so you just need to take it over time any time of day.

email:rheitzman at gmail
05-21-2012, 02:59 PM
He was just taking it in the morning. His last Dr prescribed 2X/day but for some reason, this Dr gave him only 1X/day so we need to get that fixed. We have had some REALLY nice, quiet nights of sleep with him taking both before bed! If it isn't these two items, I don't know what changed but we are both happy.
06-11-2012, 12:21 AM
Thanks for the website tips. My speech therapist also suggests blowing through a straw 5-10 blows x 3 daily (before meals). I have a paralyzed soft palate, so that impairs my speaking (air escapes through my nose so speech sounds nasally.

I have tried elevating head to alleviate the dry-drowning, however that really affects my neck and chiropractor says that is why; he says one than one pillow presents that problem. Any suggestions?