Persons with ALS experience difficulties with eating and drinking as a result of progressive weakness of the lips, the tongue, the soft palate, the pharynx and the larynx muscles. Breathing and swallowing coordination can become problematic as well, leading to aspiration pneumonia.
Swallowing involves a complex network of muscles and nerves in the mouth and throat that work together to move food from the mouth down into the stomach while also preventing us from inhaling our food and choking ( massgeneral.org ).
Dysphagia-related complications, such as aspiration pneumonia and malnutrition, were shown to be major causes of death among patients with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (Luchesi, Kitamua, Mourão, 2014). No solidly researched treatment exists to maintain swallowing in persons with ALS.