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Aspiration Prevention

What is aspiration?

Aspiration occurs when food, drink, or saliva gets into the lungs. Coughing or choking could be a sign of aspiration. However, aspiration can happen without any signs, this is called silent aspiration.

What can I do to prevent aspiration in hospital?

  • Always keep the head of the bed in an upright position (30-45 degrees)
  • Dangle your feet the evening after surgery
  • While awake, do deep breathing exercises
  • Sit in chair at all mealtimes, stay up 30 minutes after all meals
  • Walk at least 3 times a day.
  • Brush your teeth after each meal or 3 times per day

If you have nausea or vomiting please let your health care team know.

What can I expect from my care team and family to help prevent aspiration?

The team will remind you to do the above activities.

  • Help the patient to sit in a chair at all mealtimes.
  • Family members should:
    1. Be aware of aspiration prevention activities.
    2. Always ask the nurse if a patient is allowed to eat before feeding.
    3. Help patient to sit on the chair at the bedside for meals.
    4. Walk with patient each day.

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