Silent Aspiration Risk Analysis Program




Silent aspiration refers to the results of abnormal swallowing, which is particularly dangerous due to a lack of coughing, hoarse voice or other obvious symptoms. The condition can affect anybody at any time, but it is most prevalent among the following groups:

  • Up to 40-70% of senior patients who suffer from neurological disorders, such as stroke, Parkinson’s disease, or Dementia, have been found to experience silent aspiration, with the risk of these groups experiencing swallowing difficulties (dysphagia) is as high as 50-75%.
  • Up to 71% of senior patients suffering from pneumonia have experienced silent aspiration.
  • Almost 30% of those over the age of 60 lose their lives to aspiration pneumonia.

The invisible symptoms of silent aspiration pose a grave danger as neither patients nor their caregivers are aware that food or liquids have entered the respiratory system. One of the most serious complications that can arise from such an occurrence is aspiration pneumonia, which is a life-threatening disorder. Therefore, risk analysis carried out by professional medical staff is essential to screen for the condition and to prevent further damage.

Basic aspiration risk analysis can be carried out by patients themselves.

In cases where swallowing difficulties are suspected, the following questionnaire should be completed.

To what extent have you suffered with the following issues when swallowing? least —-> most
0 1 2 3 4
1. Swallowing issues have led to a loss of weight
2. Swallowing issues are affecting my habits when eating out
3. It takes a greater-than-usual effort to swallow liquids
4. It takes a greater-than-usual effort to swallow food
5. It takes a greater-than-usual effort to swallow medication in pill form
6. It hurts when I swallow
7. Swallowing issues are affecting my enjoyment of meals
8. It feels like there is something stuck in my throat when I swallow
9. I cough when eating
10. Swallowing issues are causing me stress
Combined points ____/40

*It is recommended that you arrange a consultation should you have a combined score of over 3 points as this means you are at risk and could choke on your food.

Reference: Belafsky PC, Mouadeb DA, Rees CJ, Pryor JC, Postma GN, Allen J, Leonard RJ. Validity and Reliability of the Eating Assessment Tool(EAT-10).Annals of Otology Rhinology & Laryngology 2008; 117(12): 919-924.

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