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Drooling in Parkinson’s Disease: Prevalence and Progression from the Non-motor International Longitudinal Study

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Daniel J. van Wamelen, Valentina Leta, Julia Johnson, Claudia Lazcano Ocampo, Aleksandra M. Podlewska, Katarina Rukavina, Alexandra Rizos, Pablo Martinez-Martin, K. Ray Chaudhuri

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)955-961
Number of pages7
Issue number6
Accepted/In press1 Jan 2020
PublishedDec 2020

King's Authors


Sialorrhoea in Parkinson’s disease (PD) is an often neglected yet key non-motor symptom with impact on patient quality of life. However, previous studies have shown a broad range of prevalence figures. To assess prevalence of drooling in PD and its relationship to quality of life, we performed a retrospective analysis of 728 consecutive PD patients who had a baseline and follow-up assessment as part of the Non-motor International Longitudinal Study (NILS), and for whom drooling presence and severity were available, assessed through the Non-Motor Symptoms Scale (NMSS). In addition, we analysed the prevalence of associated dysphagia through self-reported outcomes. Quality of life was assessed through the PDQ-8 scale. Baseline (disease duration 5.6 years) prevalence of drooling was 37.2% (score ≥ 1 NMSS question 19), and after 3.27 ± 1.74 years follow-up, this was 40.1% (p = 0.17). The prevalence of drooling increased with age (p < 0.001). The severity of drooling, however, did not change (p = 0.12). While in 456 patients without drooling at baseline, only 16% (n = 73) had dysphagia (question 20 of the NMSS), in those with drooling this was 34.3% (p < 0.001). At follow-up, the number of patients with dysphagia had increased, 20.4% with no drooling had dysphagia, and 43.6% with drooling had dysphagia. Both at baseline and follow-up, drooling severity was significantly positively associated with quality of life (PDQ-8; r = 0.199; p < 0.001). In moderately advanced PD patients, subjective drooling occurs in over one-third of patients and was significantly associated with decreased quality of life. Dysphagia occurred significantly more often in patients with drooling.

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