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Management Of Dehydration In Patients Suffering Swallowing Difficulties

Reber, Gomes, Dähn, Vasiloglou, Stanga

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Swallowing difficulties, also called dysphagia, can have various causes and may occur at many points in the swallowing process. The treatment and rehabilitation of dysphagia represent a major interdisciplinary and multiprofessional challenge. In dysphagic patients, dehydration is frequent and often accelerated as a result of limited fluid intake. This condition results from loss of water from the intracellular space, disturbing the normal levels of electrolytes and fluid interfering with metabolic processes and body functions. Dehydration is associated with increased morbidity and mortality rates. Dysphagic patients at risk of dehydration thus require close monitoring of their hydration state, and existing imbalances should be addressed quickly. This review gives an overview on dehydration, as well as its pathophysiology, risk factors, and clinical signs/symptoms in general. Available management strategies of dehydration are presented for oral, enteral, and parenteral fluid replacement.