Swallowing difficulties among healthy elderly: prevalence and aetiology


  • Fathima Abdul Khader Department of ENT, Yenepoya Medical College, Mangalore, Karnataka, India
  • Gangadhara Somayaji K. S. Department of ENT, Yenepoya Medical College, Mangalore, Karnataka, India
  • Mubeena . Department of ENT, Yenepoya Medical College, Mangalore, Karnataka, India




Swallowing difficulties, Healthy elderly, Swallowing disturbance questionnaire, Prevalence, Aetiology


Background: Dysphagia is a common problem among elderly individuals. Very few studies have been done to know the prevalence of dysphagia among healthy elderly individuals. So a study was done to assess the prevalence of swallowing difficulties among healthy elderly individuals and to find out the various causes for it in them.

Methods: 259 elderly individuals were screened using the swallowing disturbance questionnaire to assess the prevalence of swallowing disorders. Those individuals with swallowing disorders were further subjected to modified Barium swallow to know the aetiology.  

Results: Of the 259 elderly individuals screened, 85 were females and 174 were males. The mean age and standard deviation was 66.16±6.233. The prevalence of swallowing difficulties was 20.1%, with no significant difference in the gender wise distribution or age wise distribution. Among the various aetiologies diagnosed, idiopathic cause is the commonest, followed by oesophageal neoplasm (21.1%), and then the achalasia cardia (9.6%). Among oesophageal neoplasm, mid-thoracic esophageal neoplasm (9.6%) is the commonest.

Conclusions: Considering the time and cost involved, it is not feasible to subject all elderly for instrumental swallowing evaluation like videofluoroscopy. Hence it would be beneficial to screen the elderly individuals for dysphagia and educate them regarding its importance, as dysphagia can also be associated with serious underlying pathology and complications such as aspiration.



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