Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


COPD-related problems hard to swallow

Patients with moderate to severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) exhibit a disordered breathing-swallowing pattern that may account for their higher risk of aspiration pneumonia, according to new research from the University of Pittsburgh.

In the first issue for April of the American Thoracic Society's American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, Roxann Diez Gross, Ph.D., and colleagues report that patients with moderate to severe COPD exhibit alterations between breathing and swallowing patterns even when they are not experiencing exacerbations.

While it was previously known that COPD patients exhibited decoupling of the breathing-swallowing pattern of saliva during exacerbations, until now there were no formal studies detailing to what extent, if any, disruptions in breathing and swallowing coordination occurred in COPD patients outside of exacerbations during normal eating.

The researchers examined the relationship between swallowing and timing of breathing in 25 patients with moderate to severe COPD and compared them with 25 healthy subjects. Each subject was asked to consume nine wafer cookies and ten teaspoons of pudding to determine whether there were differences in the handling of solid versus semi-solid food.

The researchers found that in patients with COPD, a pattern emerged that was strikingly different from that of healthy controls.

"In healthy subjects, the usual pattern is to time swallows to occur during early to mid exhalation. Healthy individuals also nearly exclusively follow each swallow with exhalation. This pattern assures that there is sufficient air pressure below the vocal folds during a swallow and prevents inhalation of food residue after swallowing," said Dr. Gross. "In contrast, in COPD patients, we saw that several aspects of their swallowing and breathing timing were disrupted such that swallows were occurring during inhalation or where followed by inhalation. COPD patients also swallowed more often at the end of exhalation at lower lung volumes."

The complicated physiology of the upper respiratory tract may be thrown out of balance by the respiratory burden imposed by COPD, explained Dr. Gross. "Because breathing and eating share the structures of the upper airway, precise coordination is needed to prevent food material from entering the airway while eating. In patients with COPD, the competition for the upper airway may cause the respiratory drive to override swallowing function and disrupt the normal patterning. The lungs of COPD patients have less elasticity than those of healthy individuals and this may also play a role swallowing safety."

Difficulty swallowing is often related to weakness and is associated with many neurological diseases such as Parkinson's disease. The observed impaired breathing and swallowing patterns in the COPD patients suggest a possible explanation for the presence of swallowing disorders in persons that do not have neurological illness.

Dr. Gross also points out the immediate clinical implication of these findings: "Unrecognized aspiration can occur prior to or during COPD exacerbation and may contribute to the onset and severity of the exacerbations. Patients with COPD should have their swallowing function evaluated during hospitalizations and aspiration should be suspected when COPD exacerbations cannot be linked to viral infections or other factors," she said.

Further research is being conducted that examines the interactions between control of the respiratory cycle, lung elasticity and swallowing function. Currently, therapies that manipulate the respiratory system are being developed to improve swallowing function and safety.

Keely Savoie | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia
21.10.2016 | Universitätsklinikum Magdeburg

nachricht New potential cancer treatment using microwaves to target deep tumors
12.10.2016 | University of Texas at Arlington

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>