Text Size: a  |   a 

Dysphagia Receives New Screening Tool

June 6, 2016

The leading cause of death in Multiple Sclerosis patients is dysphagia. It just so happens that this condition which gives patients swallowing difficulties has a new screening tool that has just been evaluated. In order to identify those patients whom suffer from these swallowing difficulties early on, the researchers at Baylor College of Medicine in Texas have developed this new tool.

What the new screening tool did was combine two previous developed questionnaires which were the DYMUS (Dysphagia in MS) questionnaire and EAT-1- (Eating Assessment Tool 10). These were correlated alongside results of swallowing evaluations from the Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) as well as MS type. 214 patients were screened with the new tool and about 30 percent of them reported to have swallowing problems. The preliminary results were found to suggest that the screening tool and the questionnaires it was based on correlated with those objective measures of dysphasia.

Future plans include screening up to 1,000 MS patients in order to confirm these results and validate this new tool.

Common symptoms of these swallowing problems include coughing, choking, difficulty chewing, swallowing and feeling a sticking sensation. As this is the leading cause of death in MS patients, it seems to be a result of complications with poor nutrition, dehydration as well as lung infection. It is also believed that MS patients experiencing swallowing problems are also at high risk of aspiration pneumonia, a life-threatening lung infection.

As dysphagia is present in up to 65 percent of patients, early identification would allow for many improvements in the lives of those suffering from the swallowing difficulties. This would include rehabilitation programs being launched where patients would be guided on their food intake to “prevent the inhalation of saliva, food, liquids, or vomit into the lungs”. Physicians would also be able to carefully monitor patients after their early screening.