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Stroke

Stroke and continuous clearing of throat

09/19/2007

Question:

My husband had a stroke 4 years ago. Paralyzed on his left side, does not do any exercise, will not go back to therapy and is wheelchair bound. The last 4 months he has been clearing his throat frequently. Almost sounds like a gagging reflex. He coughes frequently, but it like a clearing of the throat. What would be causing this as he has not done it in the past? My doctor says not to worry unless he is coughing up blood.

Answer:

From the information you have provided, I cannot answer your question.  One possibility is that his swallowing function is not sufficient to handle saliva, and thus he is clearing his throat.  You should watch closely for difficulty with swallowing, including coughing and/or choking.  If there are any concerns about his swallowing function, a swallow study might be appropriate—if swallowing has deteriorated, it might require a change in diet or special maneuvers while eating to prevent aspiration.

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Response by:

Brett   Kissela, MD Brett Kissela, MD
Assistant Professor of Neurology
Director, Neurology Residency Program
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati