profile of a woman with a diagram showing the function of swallowing overlaid on her face

Swallowing and Asthma

Who knew potatoes could be dangerous? I recently choked on a baby potato; I know that does not seem that important and I likely should have cut the potato smaller. However, this had me thinking about side effects related to coughing and whether I had been experiencing them. (This is after I recovered from my freak out over coughing and choking.)

Did choking cause my cough?

I had some speculations that choking may be the cause of a pesky cough that just did not seem to go away. I have been working with my care team to try and figure out where this cough was coming from.

Possible suspects in chronic cough can include:

While my cough may be asthma-related, the most likely suspect would be a change in inflammation. Inflammation is a cornerstone of my asthma. The cough could indicate a change in inflammation and a loss of asthma control.

Issues with swallowing and asthma

Adding to the asthma mix was the addition of a sore throat and trouble swallowing. I was chalking up the swallowing issue to the sore throat, which is a common side effect of the medication that I have been taking. This all seemed reasonable and my care team was mostly in agreement. However, what were we going to do about it?

This sparked the need for more information and testing. Testing included a blood test with a specific focus on eosinophils, a c-reactive protein test, cortisol for adrenal suppression, and a chest x-ray to make sure a previous infection and rib fracture had both resolved. The most critical information was likely to come from connections to inflammation from all the oral steroids that keep wreaking ongoing havoc in my body.

Seeing a specialist

My next step was a referral to a speech-language pathologist to evaluate my swallowing issue. Did you know that speech-language pathologists are the types of specialists who evaluate swallowing issues? This was news to me! I had assumed it was my ear, nose, and throat specialist (ENT), but I was incorrect in this assumption.

Speech-language pathologists work with ENT’s and pulmonologists to provide coordinated care. They specialize in swallowing and communication disorders.

I am really hoping that I am not adding to my list of growing health issues, but I am happy to get this one evaluated as soon as possible. It will take some to get an appointment, as it is a small but highly specialized clinic. As with most things in my health system, demand outnumbers available appointments. My appointment will likely involve swallowing studies, including being scoped. In the interim, I am hoping that a change in nasal therapy may help in case there is a connection to postnasal drip.

Have you ever seen a speech-language pathologist? Have you had a connection between your asthma and swallowing issues? I would love to hear about your experiences.

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