Does Primary Progressive Aphasia Affect Swallowing?

Does Primary Progressive Aphasia Affect Swallowing
Does Primary Progressive Aphasia Affect Swallowing

In primary progressive aphasia (PPA), language comprehension and expression are hampered. But swallowing issues can also coexist with the disorder, which is connected to a neurodegenerative disease.

Aphasia is a term used to describe difficulties in understanding and expressing oneself verbally and in writing. It is a condition that develops when the parts of the brain involved in language processing are harmed.

Aphasia can be brought on by stroke, traumatic brain damage, brain tumours, and advancing neurological disorders.

A particular form of aphasia known as primary progressive aphasia (PPA) causes difficulties with writing, speaking, and language understanding.

Second only to behavioural variant frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD), which manifests pronounced behavioural and personality changes, it is regarded as one of two frontotemporal dementia subtypes.

Does primary progressive aphasia affect swallowing?

Dysphagia, or trouble swallowing, can occur with PPA.

The frontal and temporal lobes of your brain, which make up your frontotemporal area, are involved in more than just language processing. It also regulates motor, behavioural, memory, and learning processes. Other symptoms like dysphagia may appear as frontotemporal dementia worsens.

In a 2018 review, it was found that neurological diseases affecting the frontotemporal area of the brain frequently present with swallowing problems and odd eating habits.

What variant of PPA affects swallowing?

PPA comes in a variety of forms:
  • Semantic variant PPA (SvPPA): Frequently referred to as having trouble "finding the right word," svPPA generally entails a failure to remember word meanings, utilise the right phrase, or comprehend what others are saying.
  • Nonfluent/Agrammatic variant PPA (NvPPA): This variation is distinguished by a decline in the muscular control required for speech production. It can manifest as speaking slowly or with difficulty, word omissions, or perhaps even a total incapacity to communicate.
  • Logopenic variant PPA (LvPPA): LvPPA entails word searching. Although it normally doesn't impair your capacity for memory or speech formation, it can cause you to speak slowly or hesitantly as you look for the right words.

Due to an underlying progressive loss of muscular control, NvPPA is frequently linked to dysphagia.

However, a small 2016 study found that swallowing issues can occur in all PPA subtypes.

According to the study, persons with SvPPA frequently experience a variety of swallowing issues. Drooling food or saliva, choking, repeated swallowing, and delayed swallowing were among the difficulties.

Despite just 16 participants, the study provided insight into swallowing difficulties among PPA subtypes. To fully comprehend the prevalence of swallowing difficulties in PPA patients, larger research is still required.

Does PPA affect eating?

Eating habits and behaviour may change if you have PPA.

Your comfort level during mealtimes may change if you're having trouble swallowing. You can start craving softer foods, look for lesser servings, or stop wanting to eat at all.

If you're in pain or not feeling well enough to eat, it could be challenging for you to explain what you like or dislike about your meal choices.

The same 2016 study found a correlation between eating behaviour abnormalities and communication difficulties among patients with LvPPA.

Treatment options for swallowing difficulty

There is currently no treatment for PPA, and the degree of difficulty swallowing depends both on the individual and the stage of frontotemporal dementia.

PPA patients' swallowing issues can be treated in the same manner as dysphagia caused by other disorders, including:
  • eating less difficult-to-digest food
  • putting thickeners in liquids
  • changing the position of the head and the neck
  • exercises for coordination and muscle growth
You may have different swallowing strategies than someone with PPA. Some people could benefit from various eating positions, while others might find it easier to swallow foods that are too hot or too cold.

If swallowing issues make eating too challenging, there are alternative ways to provide your body with the nutrients it requires. Your doctor can go over utilising a feeding tool that feeds nutrition straight into your digestive tract, such as an enteral feeding tube.

Bottom line

Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) has a subgroup known as primary progressive aphasia (PPA). It is brought on by neurodegeneration in the parts of the brain that process language.

Symptoms might range from hesitant speaking and trouble formulating words to problems remembering word meanings, depending on which PPA variation you have.

All PPA variations could cause swallowing issues. Rehabilitative activities, dietary modifications, and posture corrections may all assist in controlling symptoms. If you are unable to consume food orally, your doctor may suggest an alternative feeding method.


Can you recover from primary progressive aphasia?

Can't be cured

Can you live a normal life with aphasia?

People with aphasia can often have long, fulfilling lives.

Is primary progressive aphasia neurological?

A neurological disorder

Is aphasia permanent or temporary?

In most cases, when you recover and your brain heals as a result of therapy and time, the aphasia becomes better or disappears totally. 

Is primary progressive aphasia fluent?

The ability to talk and write is finally lost in those with primary progressive aphasia.

Can you recover 100% from aphasia?

It might take weeks or even months for you to recover fully.

Is aphasia brain damage?

Aphasia is a language disorder caused by damage to parts of the brain.

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