Terrifying little-known symptom of a stroke that can happen while you’re eating

By Staff 7 Min Read

Some stroke signs are more obvious than others including speech being affected or a drooping mouth. But others are not as obvious and can even happen while the person is having food

A little-known symptom of a stroke has been flagged by health professionals which can happen while eating.

Difficulty swallowing, or to give it its medical name, dysphagia, can be an indicator of a stroke. It refers to food getting stuck in the gullet while eating and can also affect the throat or the chest.

The NHS says signs of the condition can include:

  • coughing or choking when eating or drinking
  • bringing food back up, sometimes through the nose
  • a feeling that food is stuck in your throat or chest
  • a gurgly, wet-sounding voice when eating or drinking

The person may also drool or have issues chewing food. It can also result in weight loss, dehydration and repeated chest infections. Other stroke symptoms can disappear quickly and in less than a day in some cases which may mean you had a transient ischaemic attack (TIA). These should also be treated as an emergency to prevent another stroke being experienced.

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Recognising stroke signs

They vary from person to person, but start suddenly. Symptoms depend on the part of your brain which has been affected and the extent of the damage. The key symptoms can be remembered with the word FAST.

  • Face – the face may have dropped one side and may affect smiling as the person’s mouth or eye may have drooped.
  • Arms – They may not be able to lift their arms because of weakness or numbness in an arm.
  • Speech –Speech may become slurred or garbled, or the ability to talk affected despite appearing to be awake. Understanding what you’re saying to them.
  • Time – it’s time to dial 999 immediately if you notice any of these signs or symptoms.

Being aware of these signs is important if you live with or care for someone in a high-risk group, such as the elderly or someone who has diabetes or high blood pressure.

Other possible symptoms

FAST identifies most strokes, but occasionally it can cause different symptoms and other signs and symptoms may include:

  • complete paralysis of 1 side of the body
  • sudden loss or blurring of vision
  • being or feeling sick
  • dizziness
  • confusion
  • difficulty understanding what others are saying
  • problems with balance and co-ordination
  • difficulty swallowing (dysphagia)
  • a sudden and very severe headache resulting in a blinding pain unlike anything experienced before
  • loss of consciousness

Transient ischaemic attack (TIA)

A mini-stroke or a transient ischaemic attack (TIA) is the same as a stroke, but lasts just a few minutes or a few hours before they disappear completely. Symptoms do get better, but a TIA can be as a ‘serious warning sign’ of about the blood supply to your brain. This makes you at increased risk of having a stroke in the near future.

People who have one are urged to phone 999 immediately for an ambulance if someone has TIA or stroke symptoms. They will be offered an aspirin immediately if a TIA is suspected. Taking the tablet helps prevent a stroke.

The symptoms may disappear while waiting for an ambulance, but an, an assessment in a hospital should still be made. The patient should also be referred to see a specialist within 24 hours. People who think they have had a TIA before, but the symptoms have disappeared should still make an urgent appointment with a GP. A GP will refer you for a hospital assessment if necessary.

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