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European Society for Swallowing Disorders – European Union Geriatric Medicine Society white paper: oropharyngeal dysphagia as a geriatric syndrome

Authors Baijens LW, Clavé P, Cras P, Ekberg O, Forster A, Kolb GF, Leners JC, Masiero S, Mateos-Nozal J, Ortega O, Smithard DG, Speyer R, Walshe M

Received 4 March 2016

Accepted for publication 27 April 2016

Published 7 October 2016 Volume 2016:11 Pages 1403—1428

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/CIA.S107750

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Lucy Goodman

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Richard Walker

Laura WJ Baijens,1 Pere Clavé,2,3 Patrick Cras,4 Olle Ekberg,5 Alexandre Forster,6 Gerald F Kolb,7 Jean-Claude Leners,8 Stefano Masiero,9 Jesús Mateos-Nozal,10 Omar Ortega,2,3 David G Smithard,11 Renée Speyer,12 Margaret Walshe13

1Department of Otorhinolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery, Maastricht University Medical Center, Maastricht, the Netherlands; 2Gastrointestinal Physiology Laboratory, Department of Surgery, Hospital of Mataró, Autonomous University of Barcelona, Mataró, 3CIBERehd, Instituto de Salud Carlos III, Barcelona, Spain; 4Department of Neurology, Antwerp University Hospital, University of Antwerp, Born Bunge Institute, Edegem, Belgium; 5Department of Translational Medicine, Division of Medical Radiology, Skåne University Hospital, Malmö, Sweden; 6Clinique Bois-Bougy, Nyon, Switzerland; 7Department of Geriatrics and Physical Medicine, Bonifatius Hospital, Lingen, Germany; 8Long Term Care and Hospice, Ettelbruck, Luxembourg; 9Rehabilitation Unit, Department of Neuroscience, University of Padua, Padova, Italy; 10Department of Geriatric Medicine, Hospital Ramón y Cajal, Madrid, Spain; 11Clinical Gerontology, Princess Royal University Hospital, King’s College Hospital Foundation Trust, London, UK; 12College of Healthcare Sciences, James Cook University, Townsville, QLD, Australia; 13Department of Clinical Speech and Language Studies, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland

Abstract: This position document has been developed by the Dysphagia Working Group, a committee of members from the European Society for Swallowing Disorders and the European Union Geriatric Medicine Society, and invited experts. It consists of 12 sections that cover all aspects of clinical management of oropharyngeal dysphagia (OD) related to geriatric medicine and discusses prevalence, quality of life, and legal and ethical issues, as well as health economics and social burden. OD constitutes impaired or uncomfortable transit of food or liquids from the oral cavity to the esophagus, and it is included in the World Health Organization’s classification of diseases. It can cause severe complications such as malnutrition, dehydration, respiratory infections, aspiration pneumonia, and increased readmissions, institutionalization, and morbimortality. OD is a prevalent and serious problem among all phenotypes of older patients as oropharyngeal swallow response is impaired in older people and can cause aspiration. Despite its prevalence and severity, OD is still underdiagnosed and untreated in many medical centers. There are several validated clinical and instrumental methods (videofluoroscopy and fiberoptic endoscopic evaluation of swallowing) to diagnose OD, and treatment is mainly based on compensatory measures, although new treatments to stimulate the oropharyngeal swallow response are under research. OD matches the definition of a geriatric syndrome as it is highly prevalent among older people, is caused by multiple factors, is associated with several comorbidities and poor prognosis, and needs a multidimensional approach to be treated. OD should be given more importance and attention and thus be included in all standard screening protocols, treated, and regularly monitored to prevent its main complications. More research is needed to develop and standardize new treatments and management protocols for older patients with OD, which is a challenging mission for our societies.

Keywords: Swallowing disorders, malnutrition, aged, frail elderly, quality of life, healthy aging, sarcopenia

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