Swallowing disorders in the elderly

Laryngoscope. 2002 Apr;112(4):589-602. doi: 10.1097/00005537-200204000-00001.


Changes that occur as a natural part of senescence in the complex action of deglutition predispose us to dysphagia and aspiration. As the "baby-boomers" begin to age, the onset of swallowing difficulties will begin to manifest in a greater number of our population. Recent advances in the evaluation of normal and abnormal swallowing make possible more precise anatomical and physiological diagnoses. Coupled with an understanding of swallowing physiology, such detailed evaluation allows greater opportunity to safely manage dysphagia with directed therapy and appropriate surgical intervention. The current study is a discussion of the changes that occur in deglutition with normal aging, contemporary evaluation of swallowing function, and some of the common causes of dysphagia in elderly patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aging / physiology
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / complications
  • Deglutition / physiology
  • Deglutition Disorders* / diagnosis
  • Deglutition Disorders* / etiology
  • Deglutition Disorders* / physiopathology
  • Drug-Related Side Effects and Adverse Reactions
  • Humans
  • Laryngeal Cartilages / physiopathology
  • Laryngeal Muscles / physiopathology
  • Parkinson Disease / complications
  • Stroke / complications