, Volume 31, Issue 1, pp 49–59 | Cite as

Swallowing Disorders in Sjögren’s Syndrome: Prevalence, Risk Factors, and Effects on Quality of Life

  • Jenny L. Pierce
  • Kristine Tanner
  • Ray M. Merrill
  • Karla L. Miller
  • Katherine A. Kendall
  • Nelson Roy
Original Article


This epidemiological investigation examined the prevalence, risk factors, and quality-of-life effects of swallowing disorders in Sjögren’s syndrome (SS). One hundred and one individuals with primary or secondary SS (94 females, 7 males; mean age 59.4, SD = 14.1) were interviewed regarding the presence, nature, and impact of swallowing disorders and symptoms. Associations among swallowing disorders and symptoms, select medical and social history factors, SS disease severity, and the M.D. Anderson Dysphagia Inventory (MDADI) and Short Form 36 Health Survey (SF-36) were examined. The prevalence of a current self-reported swallowing disorder was 64.4 %. SS disease severity was the strongest predictor of swallowing disorders, including significant associations with the following swallow symptoms: taking smaller bites, thick mucus in the throat, difficulty placing food in the mouth, and wheezing while eating (p < .05). Additional swallowing disorder risk factors included the presence of a self-reported voice disorder, esophageal reflux, current exposure to secondary tobacco smoke, frequent neck or throat tension, frequent throat clearing, chronic post-nasal drip, and stomach or duodenal ulcers. Swallowing disorders did not differ on the basis of primary or secondary SS. Swallowing disorders and specific swallowing symptoms were uniquely associated with reduced quality of life. Among those with swallowing disorders, 42 % sought treatment, with approximately half reporting improvement. Patient-perceived swallowing disorders are relatively common in SS and increase with disease severity. Specific swallowing symptoms uniquely and significantly reduce swallow and health-related quality of life, indicating the need for increased identification and management of dysphagia in this population.


Sjögren’s syndrome Epidemiology Deglutition disorders Quality of life Autoimmune diseases 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Department of Communication Sciences and DisordersThe University of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA
  2. 2.The Department of Communication DisordersBrigham Young UniversityProvoUSA
  3. 3.The Department of Health ScienceBrigham Young UniversityProvoUSA
  4. 4.The Division of Rheumatology, Department of Internal MedicineThe University of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA
  5. 5.Division of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, The Department of SurgeryThe University of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA

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