Cough and aspiration of food and liquids to oral-pharyngeal dysphagia: ACCP evidence-based clinical practice guidelines

Carol A.Smith Hammond, Larry B. Goldstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

141 Scopus citations


Background: Cough may be an indicator of aspiration due to oral-pharyngeal dysphagia. Methods: Relevant literature was identified by searching the Communication Sciences and Disorders Dome, the Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, the Educational Resource Information Center, Health & Psycltosocial Instruments, the American Psychological Association, and the National Library of Medicine databases from 1965 to 2004 using the terms "deglutition," "aspiration," and "cough." Results: Aspiration was observed on radiologic evaluation in over one third of acute stroke patients and in > 40% of patients undergoing cervical spine surgery. Cough while eating may indicate aspiration, but aspiration may be clinically silent. Subjective patient and caregiver reports of cough while eating are useful in identifying patients who are at risk for aspiration. Objective measures of voluntary cough and tussigenic challenges to inhaled irritants are under investigation to determine their capacity to predict the risk for aspiration and subsequent pneumonia. The treatment of dysphagic patients by a multidisciplinary team, including early evaluation by a speech-language pathologist, is associated with improved outcomes. Effective clinical interventions such as the use of compensatory swallowing strategies and the alteration of food consistencies can be based on the results of instrumental swallowing studies. The efficacy of swallowing exercises and electrical muscle stimulation is under study. Surgical interventions may be considered in selected patients, but studies proving efficacy are generally lacking. Conclusions: Patients who are at risk for aspiration can be identified, and appropriate interventions can reduce its associated morbidity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)154S-168S
Issue number1 SUPPL.
StatePublished - Jan 2006


  • Aspiration
  • Deglutition
  • Reflexive cough
  • Silent aspiration
  • Speech-language pathologist
  • Voluntary cough

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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