Send to

Choose Destination
Hong Kong Med J. 2014 Oct;20(5):421-7. doi: 10.12809/hkmj144251. Epub 2014 Jul 4.

Preventing aspiration pneumonia in older people: do we have the 'know-how'?

Author information

The University of Hong Kong; Department of Medicine and Geriatrics, Fung Yiu King Hospital, 9 Sandy Bay Road, Pokfulam, Hong Kong.
Faculty of Medicine, University of New South Wales, High Street, Kensington NSW 2052, Australia; Aged Care and Rehabilitation, Bankstown-Lidcombe Hospital, Eldridge Road, Bankstown NSW 2200, Australia.


Aspiration pneumonia is common in older people. To reduce the risk of aspiration pneumonia, maintenance of good oral hygiene is important and medications affecting salivary flow or causing sedation are best avoided, if possible. The use of H2 blockers and proton-pump inhibitors should be minimised. Different compensatory and facilitation techniques can be applied during oral feeding. Hand feeding should be tried before consideration of tube feeding. The use of tube feeding is the last resort and is mainly for improving nutrition and hydration. Prevention of aspiration pneumonia and increasing survival rates should not be the rationales for tube feeding. Feeding via both gastrostomy and nasogastric tube has similar risks for aspiration pneumonia, and continuous pump feeding is not better than intermittent feeding. Jejunal feeding might decrease the chance of aspiration pneumonia in selected high-risk patients. If older patients are on angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors without intolerable cough, continuing the drug may be beneficial. Folate deficiency, if present, needs to be promptly corrected. Further better-designed studies are warranted to find the best ways for prevention of aspiration pneumonia.


Aged; Enteral nutrition/methods; Pneumonia, aspiration

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Hong Kong Academy of Medicine Press
Loading ...
Support Center