Effects of rheological factors on perceived ease of swallowing
Journal article, 2015
This study is a contribution to the understanding of how rheological properties of a fluid influences swallowing, especially people suffering from swallowing disorders (dysphagia). Our hypothesis was that fluid elasticity contributes to safe and pleasant swallowing. In the present study three food grade model fluids with specific rheological properties were developed and used: A Newtonian fluid with constant shear viscosity, an elastic Boger fluid with constant shear viscosity and a shear-thinning fluid which was elastic and had rate dependent shear viscosity. By comparing the swallowing of these model fluids the specific rheological effects could be distinguished. Sensory analysis of the perceived ease of swallowing was performed by a panel of healthy individuals, and by a group of dysphagic patients. The swallowing of the latter group was also characterized by videoflouroscopy and the transit times in the mouth and pharynx were determined. The hypothesis was confirmed by dysphagic patients who perceived swallowing easier for the elastic model fluids. A sensory panel of healthy individuals could not distinguish differences in swallowing, likely because their swallowing functions well and is an involuntary process. Quantitative videofluoroscopic measurements of swallowing transit times for the dysphagic patients suggested that fluid elasticity contributed to easy and safe swallowing, but the effect was not statistically significant due to the large spread of type of swallowing disorder.