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South African Journal of Communication Disorders

On-line version ISSN 2225-4765
Print version ISSN 0379-8046

Abstract

WEIMERS, Merryl J.  and  PILLAY, Mershen. Pathogenic oral bacteria in hospitalised patients with dysphagia: The silent epidemic. S. Afr. J. Commun. Disord. [online]. 2021, vol.68, n.1, pp.1-7. ISSN 2225-4765.  http://dx.doi.org/10.4102/sajcd.v68i1.798.

BACKGROUND: Aspiration pneumonia is a serious and fatal complication of dysphagia, secondary to the ingestion of bacteria-laden secretions. However, no studies have documented the oral hygiene features present in patients who present with dysphagiaOBJECTIVES: The purpose of this study was to describe the oral hygiene problems of adults admitted to a sub-acute rehabilitation hospital and who presented with dysphagiaMETHODS: A descriptive, cross-sectional survey was conducted, during which 40 participants - 57.5% (n = 23) male and 42.5% (n = 17) female - underwent a clinical swallow evaluation using the Mann Assessment of Swallowing Ability (MASA) augmented with cervical auscultation (CA) and pulse oximetry (PO), an oral hygiene assessment using an adapted version of the Oral Health Assessment Tool (OHAT), followed by microbiology laboratory analysis of buccal swab samples to detect bacteria not considered part of the normal oral floraRESULTS: Results indicated that poor oral hygiene status was a common feature amongst all participants who presented with dysphagia. The most prevalent oral hygiene issues were related to abnormalities concerning saliva (60%), oral cleanliness (82.5%), the tongue (80%) and the use of dentures (71.4%). A high prevalence, 62.5% (n = 25), of opportunistic bacteria was found. The most commonly occurring bacteria groups were: (1) Candida albicans (47.5%) and (2) respiratory pathogens (37.5%) such as Klebsiella pneumoniae and Staphylococcus aureusCONCLUSION: Persons with dysphagia have poor oral hygiene which creates favourable environments for bacteria to flourish and increases the prevalence of pathogenic oral bacteria associated with the development of aspiration pneumonia. The management of oral health issues for persons with dysphagia should receive greater attention during hospitalisation

Keywords : dysphagia; oral hygiene; aspiration pneumonia; oral bacteria; hospitalised patients.

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