Both voice and swallowing issues are common in people with Parkinson's.
The swallowing issues tend to progress ie get worse as the disease progresses. They can involve difficulty chewing and or swallowing food, liquids, medications or saliva. People with Parkinson's often report that their swallow function is the best about half an hour after taking their Parkinson's medication. Some signs and symptoms that someone with Parkinson's is having swallowing difficulties are as follows: drooling of saliva/drink/food, coughing when eating/drinking, weight loss, longer time to eat a meal, recurrent chest infections/pneumonias. There are food and fluid modifications that can be made and safe swallowing strategies that can be recommended by a Speech Pathologist. Someone with severe swallowing issues may be admitted to hospital with a chest infection that may required intubation/ventilation. Seek help from a Speech Pathologist if any of the above signs apply to you.
In regards to voice, someone with Parkinson's will speak with a breathy/soft voice. This happens because the vocal folds (sound source) are bowed and don't come together to produce a strong sound. People with Parkinson's also have poor breath support (from the lungs) which causes a low volume voice. The good news is that there is a fantastic voice therapy program call LSVT-Loud which increases the volume and clarity of people's voices. This program is specifically taregetted to people with Parkinson's. It also can improve swallow function. There is an exciting new therapy that will be coming to Australia this year that will help people with Parkinson's- both with their voice and swallowing.
If any of you have any questions/need help, please don't hestitate to contact me.
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