Foreign body asphyxiation causes severe medical conditions including pneumonia in the elderly requiring nursing care. The objective of this study was to elucidate the relationships between insufficient occlusal support due to tooth loss and the onset of asphyxiation accidents, and determine preventive measures for such accidents in nursing homes in Japan. The subjects were 437 elderly (110 men and 327 women) requiring nursing care. The frequency and risk factors for asphyxiation accidents and the food causing asphyxiation were examined in these subjects for 2.5 years, from June 2006 to December 2008. During the study period, 51 of the 437 subjects suffered asphyxiation. Self-feeding ability and loss of occlusal support were associated with a covariate-adjusted relative ratio for asphyxiation of 3.1 (95% confidence interval (CI)=1.50-6.44) and 1.7 (95% CI=1.12-2.74), respectively. To prevent asphyxiation in elderly people, it was found that maintaining or restoring occlusal support may be required. It was concluded that self-feeding ability and loss of occlusal support are significant risk factors for foreign-body asphyxiation among elderly people requiring nursing care.
Many elderly people under long-term care suffer from malnutrition caused by dysphagia, frequently leading to sarcopenia. Our hypothesis is that sarcopenia may compromise oral function, resulting in dysphagia. The objectives of this study were to evaluate sarcopenia of the lingual muscles by measuring the tongue thickness, and elucidate its relationship with nutritional status. We examined 104 elderly subjects (mean age = 80.3 ± 7.9 years). Anthropometric data, such as triceps skinfold thickness and midarm muscle area (AMA), were obtained. The tongue thickness of the central part was determined using ultrasonography. Measurement was performed twice and the mean value was obtained. The relationship between tongue thickness and nutritional status was analyzed by Pearsons correlation coefficient and Spearmans rank correlation coefficient. AMA and age were identified by multiple-regression analysis as factors influencing tongue thickness. The results of this study suggest that malnutrition may induce sarcopenia not only in the skeletal muscles but also in the tongue.
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