Dysphagia in old-old women: Prevalence as determined according to self-report and the 3-ounce water swallowing test

Marlís González-Fernández, Ianessa Humbert, Heather Winegrad, Anne R. Cappola, Linda P. Fried

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives To determine whether symptoms and clinical signs of swallowing dysfunction could be easily identified in community-dwelling elderly adults and to examine the association between self-report and direct observation of symptoms and signs of swallowing dysfunction. Design Physiological substudy conducted as a home visit within an observational cohort study. Setting Baltimore City and County, Maryland. Participants Community-dwelling elderly women without history of dysphagia or neurological disease aged 85 to 94 enrolled in the Women's Health and Aging Study II (N = 47). Measurements Three trials of the 3-ounce water swallowing test, swallowing function questionnaire, and frailty status. Results Thirty-four (72%) subjects demonstrated swallowing dysfunction in at least one swallowing trial and 16 (34%) in all three trials. The most common signs of dysfunction were throat clear and wet voice. Conversely, participants reported few symptoms of dysphagia on a swallowing function questionnaire. The most common symptom, reported by approximately 15% of participants, was the sensation of the food going "down the wrong way," 8.5% or fewer participants reported other symptoms. Conclusion Signs of swallowing dysfunction were present in a large majority of community-dwelling old-old women, but they were largely unrecognized and reported. Formal evaluation of swallowing function in community-dwelling elderly adults is necessary to determine the clinical consequences of these findings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)716-720
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of the American Geriatrics Society
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2014


  • dysphagia
  • screening
  • self-report
  • swallowing
  • water test

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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