Pflegerin mit Senior im Krankenhaus

What is Dysphagia?

Dysphagia is the medical term used to describe difficulty swallowing. 


Below are some common symptoms of dysphagia:

·         Difficulty initiating a swallow

·         Coughing/choking with meals

·         Experiencing pain while swallowing

·         Feeling something “stuck” in the throat

·         Food or liquid “coming back up” after meals

·         Difficulty swallowing pills

·    Poor or suddenly decreased appetite

·         Repeated episodes of pneumonia

·         Pocketing or holding food in the mouth

·         Shortness of breath during or after meals



Mature man sitting on sofa coughing at his home

Who Is At Risk for Dysphagia?

·     22% in adults over 50

(Lindgren & Janzon, 1991; National Foundation of Swallowing Disorders, n.d.; Tibbling & Gustafsson, 1991)(Lindgren & Janzon, 1991; National Foundation of Swallowing Disorders, n.d.; Tibbling & Gustafsson, 1991)

·     30% in elderly adults receiving inpatient medical treatment

(Layne, Losinski, Zenner, & Ament, 1989)

·     68% of adults living in long-term care settings

(National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders [NIDCD], n.d.; Steele, Greenwood, Ens, Robertson, & Seidman-Carlson, 1997)

·     29-64% of stroke patients

(Barer, 1989; Flowers, Silver, Fang, Rochon, & Martino, 2013; Gordon, Hewer, & Wade, 1987; Mann, Hankey, & Cameron, 1999)

·     13-57% in patients with dementia

(Alagiakrishnan, Bhanji, & Kurian, 2013)

·     90% of patients with Parkinson’s or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)

(Coates & Bakheit, 1997)


What is Aspiration?

Aspiration is when food or liquid passes below the vocal folds and into the airway. Silent aspiration is the lack of sensory response (cough, throat clear, etc.) to aspiration. This can lead to pneumonia and other serious respiratory complications.


Research shows that: 

·         25-57% of aspiration occurs before the swallow

·         7-9% aspiration occurs during the swallow

·         44-65% aspiration occurs after the swallow



What Are The Costs Associated With Dysphagia?

Dysphagia among hospitalized patients -particularly the elderly- not only lengthens hospital stays and increases the risk of dying, but also carries significant economic burdens.

·      Hospital stays among patients with difficulty swallowing were almost double that of patients without dysphagia - with an estimated cost per year topping $547 billion (Altman K, et al., 2010).

·     An average hospitalization cost for treating pneumonia is $13,790 (University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Medical Center, Miami, FL, 1999).

·     For the typical patient receiving home enteral nutrition, the annual cost of therapy was $18,000, but ranged from $5,000 to $50,000, based on 1996 data (Reddy & Malon, 1998).

·     The cost of lifestyle alterations and caregiver burden is more difficult to determine, but can have enormous impact on individuals and others in their environment.