Excerpts from "Dysphagia" by Nam-Jong Paik, MD, PhD update for E-medicine.com August 19, 2004
Malnutrition is a risk factor for pneumonia because:
it renders the person susceptible to altered colonization in the oropharynx and reduced
resistance to infection by depressing the immune system;
- it may lead to lethargy, weakness, and reduced alertness, all of which may increase
the probability of aspiration;
- it may reduce the strength of cough and
mechanical clearance in the lungs.
Dehydration: Dysphagia could potentially lead to dehydration. Conversely,
dehydration also may be a risk factor for pneumonia because:
- it decreases salivary flow, which promotes altered colonization of the
- it may lead to lethargy and mental confusion and increased
- it makes the person susceptible to infection by depressing
the immune system.