Normal Swallowing Acoustics Across Age, Gender, Bolus Viscosity, and Bolus Volume
Cervical auscultation has been proposed as an augmentative procedure for the subjective clinical swallowing examination due to the tangible differences between normal and dysphagic swallowing sounds. However, the research is incomplete regarding cervical auscultation and swallowing acoustics in that the differences between the sounds of normal versus dysphagic swallowing have yet to be fully understood or quantified. The swallows of 96 reportedly healthy adults, balanced for gender and divided into younger, middle, and older age groups, were audio-recorded while ingesting several boluses of varying viscosity and volume. The audio signals were then analyzed to determine their temporal and acoustic characteristics. Results indicated increasing pharyngeal swallowing duration with increasing age, bolus viscosity, and bolus volume. In addition, an increased duration to peak intensity with increasing age was found in one of our two analyses, as well as with some of the more viscous versus less viscous boluses. Men and older persons produced higher peak intensities and peak frequencies than women and younger persons. Thin liquids were produced with more intensity than honey or more viscous boluses, and with greater frequency than mechanical soft solids. Larger volumes resulted in greater peak frequency values. Some of the acoustic measurements appear to be more useful than others, including the duration of the acoustic swallowing signal and the within-subjects peak intensity variable. We noted that differences in swallowing acoustics were more related to changes in viscosity rather than volume. Finally, within-participant observations were more useful than between-participant observations.