Clinical implications of respiratory-swallowing interactions

Bonnie Martin-Harris*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Swallowing disorders impact the health and quality of millions of lives of patients across the age spectrum. The broad scope of the problem is in contrast to the volume of methods that we have to treat the problem. Investigators are testing interventions that go beyond the swallowing system and are targeting those that cross or overlap with swallowing function. This review will highlight the potential clinical implications of respiratory-swallowing cross-system interaction in health and disease. RECENT FINDINGS: A collection of current studies demonstrates a tight neural coupling between the central control of respiration and swallowing. Results from recent studies suggest that this neural coupling may be altered under certain conditions of development, age, disease, and eating/swallowing tasks. SUMMARY: The functional significance of cross-system neural control on respiratory-swallowing coordination is far from understood. Preliminary data, however, show destabilization of respiratory-swallowing patterns in various neurological diseases and in head and neck cancer. These findings suggest the need to develop a line of research that tests the effects of therapeutic strategies that transcend swallowing and include cross-system interactions such as respiratory-swallow phase patterning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)194-199
Number of pages6
JournalCurrent Opinion in Otolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2008


  • Apnea
  • Deglutition
  • Dysphagia
  • Respiration
  • Swallowing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Otorhinolaryngology


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