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Dysphagia in older adults during unrelated hospital admissions

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Dysphagia in older adults during unrelated hospital admissions

Article in the journal 'Geriatrics' Sep 2018: "Dysphagia Onset in Older Adults during Unrelated Hospital Admission: Quantitative Videofluoroscopic Measures"

New-onset swallowing difficulties in older patients during unrelated hospital admissions are well recognized and may result in prolonged hospital stay and increased morbidity. Presbyphagia denotes age-related swallowing changes which do not necessarily result in pathological effects. The trajectory from presbyphagia to dysphagia is not well understood.

This retrospective observational study compared quantitative videofluoroscopic measures in hospitalized older adults aged 70–100 years, reporting new dysphagia symptoms during admission (n = 52), to healthy asymptomatic older (n = 56) and younger adults (n = 43). Significant physiological differences seen in hospitalized older adults but not healthy adults, were elevated pharyngeal area (p < 0.001) and pharyngeal constriction ratio (p < 0.001). Significantly increased penetration (p < 0.001), aspiration (p < 0.001) and pharyngeal residue (p < 0.001) were also observed in the hospitalized older cohort.

Reasons for onset of new swallow problems during hospitalization are likely multifactorial and complex. Alongside multimorbidity and polypharmacy, a combination of factors during hospitalization, such as fatigue, low levels of alertness, delirium, reduced respiratory support and disuse atrophy, may tip the balance of age-related swallowing adaptations and compensation toward dysfunctional swallowing. To optimize swallowing assessment and management for our aging population, care must be taken not to oversimplify dysphagia complaints as a characteristic of aging.

Full text here.