Swallowing reflex: analysis of the efficiency of different stimuli on healthy young individuals

Pereira, Nayara A. Vasconcelos, Motta, Andréa Rodrigues and Vicente, Laélia Cristina C

Pró-Fono R. Atual. Cient., Set 2008, vol.20, no.3, p.159-164. ISSN 0104-5687

BACKGROUND: the absence or delay of the swallowing reflex is considered a significant sign of dysphagia. Therefore, the therapy traditionally applied to these cases consists in increasing the intra-oral input through cold touches (0 or 00 larynx mirror) on the inferior portion of the inferior third of the palatoglossus arch. AIM: to identify in healthy young individuals which oropharyngeal regions are more sensitive and which stimulus is more efficient in triggering the swallowing reflex. METHODS: the swallowing reflex was analyzed based on the following stimuli: spatula, cold 00 larynx mirror, gauze embedded in cold water wrapped onto spatula and frozen moist gauze wrapped onto spatula; touching the palatoglossus arch in both its inferior and superior portions, the palatine tonsils, the base of the tongue and the uvula in 65 healthy young individuals. RESULTS: the swallowing reflex was not triggered in most of the participants when touching different oropharyngeal regions with different stimuli. This result was statistically significant. When present, the most efficient stimuli were cold 00 larynx mirror (28.6%) and frozen moist gauze wrapped onto spatula (27.3%). Concerning the oropharynx, the uvula (29.6%), the palatine tonsils (26.7%), the superior (25%) and inferior (21.2%) palatoglossi arches and the base of tongue (25%) were most sensitive to the applied stimuli. CONCLUSION: when the swallowing reflex was present, the uvula, the palatoglossi arches and the palatine tonsils were the most sensitive regions to trigger this reflex, and the most efficient stimuli to trigger swallowing were the cold 00 larynx mirror and the frozen moist gauze wrapped onto spatula.

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