An overview of dysphagia in the elderly

Jane E. Prasse, George E. Kikano

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


PURPOSE: With the growing elderly population, dysphagia is becoming an increasingly common medical condition. Primary care physicians are often the first to hear of a patient's concerns regarding swallow function and changes in overall ability to eat. EPIDEMIOLOGY: In persons over age 50, more than 20% might be affected by dysphagia. REVIEW SUMMARY: Swallowing is a complex process that involves a large number of muscles and occurs in 3 phases: oral, pharyngeal, and esophageal. The proper diagnosis and treatment of dysphagia is of tremendous importance to a patient's physical, mental, and social well-being. Left untreated, dysphagia can lead to significant problems including aspiration pneumonia, dehydration, and malnutrition. In most cases, a proper history and physical examination can identify the underlying etiology and assist in determining a treatment plan. With information about treatment options and therapeutic interventions by a speech-language pathologist, patients and physicians are better able to address and help remediate swallowing disorders in the older population. TYPE OF AVAILABLE EVIDENCE: Unstructured review, prospective cohort studies. GRADE OF AVAILABLE EVIDENCE: Poor to Fair. CONCLUSION: As the population ages, dysphagia will become more prevalent. Attention to its etiology and development of a treatment plan can help prevent physical and social complications associated with this disorder.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)527-533
Number of pages7
JournalAdvanced Studies in Medicine
Issue number10
StatePublished - Nov 2004


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