Self-Reported Dysphagia and Its Correlates Within a Prevalent Population of People with Parkinson’s Disease

Many people with Parkinson’s disease (PD) experience dysphagia; however, the prevalence of dysphagia in people with PD is unknown. We studied a prevalent population of PD cases. All of those who consented to participate were assessed for anxiety, depression, cognitive function, and quality of life using standard rating scales. Anyone who answered “yes” to either one of the two questions: Do you have difficulty swallowing food/liquid or tablets? and Do you cough after eating/drinking? was considered to have dysphagia. Question 7 of the Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS) was also used to identify dysphagia. Of 106 prevalent PD cases, 75 (38 males) patients consented to examination and assessment. The prevalence of dysphagia was 32.0% (n = 24; 11 males). Using the response to UPDRS Question 7 as an indicator of the impact of swallowing problems on the patient, there were significant correlations with cognitive function, anxiety, depression, quality of life, and UPDRS-reported gait disturbance, postural instability and problems with falling. There was no correlation with disease duration, age, or gender. Almost one third of the participants reported dysphagia. There was a strong correlation between dysphagia and gross motor skills; patients reporting such problems should be screened for swallowing problems.

from Dysphagia

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Posted on December 6, 2010, in Research and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I totally agree. I have found that many of my Parkinson’s patients did not realize they had dysphagia when they actually did. Many times the decline of the swallow function is so gradual that they just don’t really notice it… until something terrible happens, like choking or aspiration pneumonia. It would be wonderful to catch it early and to increase awareness in the Parkinson’s Disease population. I have noticed that many times one of the first signs is an increased difficulty in initiating the swallow intermittently, with multiple attempts being required to complete a swallow at times.

    I am a huge fan of the Shaker Exercise, but it is difficult to have your patients lie down. A new device allows patients to do the Shaker Exercise in a seated position. It has really worked for my patients. Even patients who have difficulty initiating a swallow have improved significantly. The website is This is the best dysphagia tool I have found.

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