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What we don't know about dysphagia complications?

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University of Milan, Department of Clinical Sciences L. Sacco Hospital, Via GB Grassi 74, 20157 Milano, Italy.


Prevention of complications is the primary goal in patients with dysphagia. The most common complications of dysphagia are aspiration pneumonia, malnutrition and dehydration; other possible complications, such as intellectual and body development deficit in children with dysphagia, or emotional impairment and social restriction have not been studied thoroughly. Pulmonary complications of dysphagia should be viewed as an impaired balance between defence mechanisms (cough and mucociliary action, lymphatic clearance and cellular immune defences) and food and secretions aspiration. The main pulmonary complications are aspiration pneumonia, toxic aspiration syndromes, bacterial infections and pulmonary fibrosis. The risk of aspiration pneumonia is increased by poor oral status and health status, dependency for oral care and oral feeding; nonetheless, compliance with feeding recommendations of the dysphagia team, may reduce the risk of pulmonary complications. Malnutrition and dehydration are common in patients with dysphagia; however, enteral nutrition may significantly impact on both. Even though a relationship between malnutrition, dehydration and dysphagia exists, the real impact of one on the others is not known.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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