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How do you die of Parkinson’s Disease?

The NY Times has a periodic “Ask Well” series that runs a few times monthly and health experts (we assume) answer reader’s questions. The question of how people die from Parkinson’s disease was in today’s newspaper and resonated with me. Years ago, I asked a similar question of my surgeon, but for head and neck cancer. The most common cause of death for someone with Parkinson’s disease is pneumonia. The cause of pneumonia is aspirating foods and liquids into the lungs due to a compromised swallow.

Here’s a link to the story:

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2017/01/13/how-do-you-die-of-parkinsons-disease/



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Xerostomia = Dry Mouth

Byline: Jennifer Kurtz is a Speech Language Pathologist and stage IV oral cancer survivor practicing at Overlake Medical Center near Seattle, Washington. Her experience has given her an unexpected, yet unique, perspective on the clinician’s role in the management of the Head & Neck Cancer population and has motivated her to advocate for aggressive, collaborative, multi-disciplinary care of all patients across a broad continuum.


Xerostomia describes the subjective sensation of oral dryness and is commonly called “dry mouth.” The typical causes of dry mouth include medications, radiotherapy to the head and neck for cancer treatment, and systemic diseases.

mouth

Xerostomia can have a profound, negative impact on quality of life. The lack of salivary production impacts the ability to eat, sleep, speak, and swallow (Lew & Smith, 2007). Adequate salivary flow allows us to speak clearly without our lips sticking to our teeth and to mix saliva with food when we chew to enable easy transfer through the oral cavity as we swallow. Inadequate salivary function can create a number of complications such as: continue reading →



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Deciphering Dysphagia

Byline: Tiffany Turner, MS, CCC-SLP, Owner, Swallowing and Neurological Rehabilitation, www.tulsasnr.com. Tiffany founded a dysphagia focused outpatient center in 2014 to serve the northeastern Oklahoma region and fill a gap in her community, as she feels adult speech pathology services are often misunderstood and underutilized. She is also an author and publishes resources for other SLPs to use with their patients which have been downloaded by over 2,000 speech-language pathologists worldwide.


Dysphagia, or difficulty swallowing, affects up to 15 million adults in the United States. According to past publications, 1 in 25 people will experience some form of dysphagia in their lifetime, including 22% of those age 50 and older (ASHA, 2008; Bhattacharyya, 2014). People at the greatest risk for swallowing impairments include individuals who have had strokes, those with neurological conditions (such Parkinson’s disease), survivors of head and neck cancer, and the elderly. Despite the significant prevalence of dysphagia, this medical condition is often neglected, and many sufferers are never properly diagnosed or treated.

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Treating Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease

Background

Gastroesophageal reflux is the backflow of acid from the stomach into the esophagus. This occurs when there is a relaxation of the valve that connects the stomach and the esophagus, which is called the lower esophageal sphincter. When reflux occurs, it can sometimes cause inflammation of or damage to the esophagus lining, which is referred to as esophagitis or erosive esophagitis. For some people, reflux can lead to a diagnosis of Barrett’s esophagus.

Barrett’s esophagus is when the lining of the esophagus changes to look like the lining of the stomach, which can lead to cancer in a small number of patients, but for most patients, reflux is not this severe. Reflux is, however, the leading cause of solid food dysphagia.

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A Newfound Meaning to Life

Byline: Steve Clark from Camp Verde, AZ

In the years since I was first diagnosed with head and neck cancer I have come to one realization. There is no such thing as a “typical” case. So many delicate and complex systems pass through that part of the anatomy that every survivor tells a different story. This is mine. Glean from it what you will. I hope that it may be of help to someone. continue reading →