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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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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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Innovations in Dysphagia Nutrition: Xanthan Gum for Quality of Life

Dinner out with friends was once a relaxing experience. Holiday meals meant enjoying familiar comfort foods of years past. A glass of wine was an evening treat.

For millions of people, the enjoyment of eating and drinking can change overnight.

This is the reality that those living with dysphagia face. Simple foods and beverages they once enjoyed have become risks for aspiration and hospitalization—and sometimes even death. Lost is the social aspect of the meal; lost are favorite foods and drinks; lost is the lunch “break”…as eating becomes a chore. continue reading →



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National Dysphagia Awareness Month Facts

June is National Dysphagia Awareness Month. Each day during the month of June, we will share a fact about dysphagia that is supported by research. We will include a citation for each fact if you are interested in learning more.

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Patient-Centered Approach to Determining the Plan of Care for Patients with Dysphagia (Part 1)

Byline: Melody Sheldon, M.A.,CCC-SLP owns and operates Southwest Rehabilitation, a private practice in Coos Bay, Oregon.  Since 1989, she has been providing services to acute care hospitals, extended care facilities, hospice, home health agencies, transitional homes, and to pediatric and adult patients in her clinic.  In an effort to provide continuity, Melody Sheldon developed the Dysphagia Complaint Scale, which she and her staff use with patients and their families to rate the severity level of the problem throughout an episode of care. continue reading →