Background: Hyposalivation may affect respiratory disease because the mouth serves as the entrance to the respiratory apparatus, as well as to the digestive tract. Patients with acute respiratory infection generally have a favorable prognosis and a short natural course. However, in cases in which the host has lowered resistance, such as in elderly patients, the infection may develop into pneumonia. Objectives: A prospective study was performed to examine the relationship between hyposalivation, which is common in elderly patients, and acute respiratory infection, which tends to become severe in elderly patients. Methods: The subjects were 323 male and female patients ≥40 years old who lived in Utsunomiya City and surrounding areas and regularly visited the Department of Dentistry and Oral Surgery, Tochigi National Hospital. A 6-month follow-up survey was performed to examine development of acute respiratory infection. Age, sex, and known risk factors were also investigated. Hyposalivation was defined as a saliva production (saliva secretion rate) of ≤0.6 ml/min. Multivariate analysis adjusted for age and sex was performed to examine potential risk factors associated with the development of acute respiratory infection. Results: Data were analyzed for 278 subjects who completed the follow-up survey. The incidence of acute respiratory infection was 60.4%, while hyposalivation was present in 96 subjects (35.5%). Multivariate analysis showed that the incidence of acute respiratory infection was higher in subjects with hyposalivation than in those without hyposalivation (adjusted odds ratio 1.761, p = 0.048). Conclusion: The results of this study suggest that hyposalivation may be a risk factor for acute respiratory infection. This also suggests that improvement of hyposalivation might prevent acute respiratory infection.

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