Prevalence of swallowing complaints and clinical findings among 50-79-year-old men and women in an urban population

Dysphagia. 1991;6(4):187-92. doi: 10.1007/BF02493524.


To determine the prevalence of swallowing and esophageal complaints in the general population, 300 men and 300 women were asked to answer a mailed questionnaire. The participation rate was 92.5%. Complaints were reported by 35%. The most common complaints were symptoms associated with gastroesophageal reflux (GER) and globus sensation, both with a rate of occurrence of 20%. Obstruction of the bolus reported by 3% was the individual symptom that most frequently brought patients to the doctor. To validate the questionnaire and to study possible organic causes behind these symptoms, 46 persons with symptoms were invited to undergo further examination. Cineradiography of the pharynx revealed that 7 of 14 patients with symptoms of GER had abnormalities in the esophagus. Eleven of 55 patients with GER symptoms at least once a week underwent endoscopy. One case of erosive esophagitis and one case of gastric ulcer were diagnosed. Four of nine patients with obstructive symptoms had defective closure of the laryngeal vestibule shown by cineradiography. Endoscopy in four patients with obstructive symptoms revealed benign findings. Thus, an epidemiologic study of patients with swallowing symptoms documented a low incidence of serious organic disease.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Deglutition Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux / complications
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sweden / epidemiology
  • Urban Health