Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts Degree


Speech Pathology And Audiology

First Advisor

Cox, Violet

Second Advisor

Myrita Wilhite

Third Advisor

Anne Su


BACKGROUND: Diabetes mellitus is a systemic disease affecting whole-body functioning. The underlying mechanisms and associated concomitant conditions suggest an increased risk for the occurrence of oropharyngeal dysphagia. PURPOSE: This is a qualitative study designed to assess perception of symptoms of oropharyngeal dysphagia in people with diabetes. METHODS: Participants were recruited by word-of-mouth and asked to complete a survey by answering questions on a Likert-type scale indicating the frequency with which they experience each symptom. Responses were weighted and analyzed according to frequency, providing a percentage of responses in each dysphagia category. Symptoms of dysphagia were examined in an overall manner, and by the following variables: age, ethnicity, duration of diagnosis, presence of oral phase difficulty, management of diabetes, and oral health. RESULTS: Overall, people with diabetes do report a variety of symptoms of swallowing problems. The proportion of dysphagia symptoms appears to be greater among older individuals, individuals with type 2 diabetes, those who have been diagnosed for less than 50% of their lives, and those with poorer oral health. CONCLUSIONS: People with diabetes indicate symptoms of oropharyngeal dysphagia on this self-report survey. Future studies would benefit from the inclusion of an objective swallow assessment following up on these reports. Keywords: diabetes, dysphagia, cognition, oral health, diabetic cough, cough reflex threshold, vagus nerve, diabetic neuropathy, autonomic neuropathy