Lungs with COPD

Healthy Lungs

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and Dysphagia

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or COPD is experiencing an increase in prevalence and overall importance both worldwide and throughout New Zealand (Celli, MacNee and Committe Members, 2004). COPD is the fourth leading cause of death in New Zealand, after cancer, heart disease and stroke and therefore has a profound impact on the health of New Zealanders. According to the Asthma Foundation of New Zealand an estimated 200,000 New Zealanders, or 15% of the adult population over 45 years is affected by the disease. Of those cases, an estimated 85% arise from tobacco and/or cannabis use; an estimated minimum of 15% of all smokers are likely to become sufferers of the disease (The Asthma Foundation, 2010).

COPD as defined by the European Thoracic Society (2004): COPD is a preventable and treatable disease state characterised by airflow limitation that is not fully reversible. The airflow limitation is usually progressive and is associated with an abnormal inflammatory response of the lungs to noxious particles of gases, primarily caused by cigarette smoking. Although COPD affects the lungs, it also produces significant systemic consequences.
It is these “other significant systemic consequences” that this site is primarily concerned with. More specifically, this site concerns itself with dysphagia in the stable COPD population. Patients with COPD are at a high risk for swallowing disorders for a variety of reasons. This site intends to explore those risk factors, and furthermore, intends to provide the Speech and Language Therapist with a variety of tools in order to better treat this clinical population. Information you will find on this site includes:

  • Disussion of the population at risk for COPD
  • Special Considerations for the client with COPD
  • The Normal Swallow
  • Assessment including: clinical evaluation and instrumental assessment
  • Rehabilitation and Management
  • The specialist population best suited to work with the clinical population
  • Useful links


The Asthma Foundation (2010). What is COPD. Retrieved Sept. 30, 2010, from

Celli, B. R., MacNee, W., Agusti, A., Anzueto, A., Berg, B., Buist, A. S., et al. (2004). Standards for the diagnosis and treatment of patients with COPD: a summary of the ATS/ERS position paper. European Respiratory Journal, 23(6), 932-946.

Roisin-Rodrigues, R. (2010). Toward a Consensus Definiton for COPD Exaserbations. Chest, 138(4), 3985-4015.

Disclaimer: The information contained on this website and its associated downloads is designed as a resource tool for Speech-Language Therapists and other interested parties and is to be used as a guide only. While every effort was made to provide full and accurate information at the time of publication, the authors, Courtney Parish, Richard Key and Robin McDaniel do not take any responsibility for the accuracy and completeness of the content.