DDA Caregiver Alert: Aspiration

Down syndrome woman at home, holding hands to throat, indicating choking.

Did You Know?

  • Aspiration happens when food, liquid, or other material enters a person’s airway and eventually the lungs by accident. It can happen as a person swallows, or food can come back up from the stomach.
  • Aspiration can lead to serious health issues such as pneumonia and chronic lung scarring.
  • Aspiration pneumonia is known as a ’silent killer‘ and it can become deadly without many symptoms. People prone to aspiration have reduced cough reflexes, so they may not notice themselves choking or induce a cough when they aspirate.
  • Choking is a significant concern for someone with swallowing issues. It is the fourth leading cause of death by unintentional injury. Learning about prevention can help save a life.

Learn more about choking and aspiration risks, signs, treatment and prevention in Aspiration: The Causes and Complications You Can Help Manage by the Washington State Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA).


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