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MRC Prion Unit
From fundamental research to prevention and cure
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Eating and Drinking

Swallowing problems are common in Prion disease and present themselves at varying stages of the illness. If they occur very early on in the disease process then alternative methods of delivering nutrition need to be explored. This may be something that the patient has already strongly advocated against in previous discussions. If the patients have made their wishes clear then it is often difficult for families to see death expedited through lack of nutrition. The nursing staff at the NPC offers ongoing support and management for these families. Patients and families and local teams who are keen to proceed with artificial feeding are supported through their decision making. Advice on insertion of RIGS is available and often patients will transfer to our inpatient unit to have this procedure carried out.

Patients with prion disease are at risk for entry of gastrointestinal secretions, oropharyngeal secretions, or solids or fluids into tracheobronchial passages. Both rapid and longer progression of prion disease can place patients at risk for aspiration. Cognitively impaired patients are at high risk. Aspiration is a common cause of death in comatose patients.

MRC Prion News