Reflux and the role of the speech-language pathologist
Do you work with people who often exhibit burping, heartburn, or regurgitation during a swallow study? Do they report feeling full before they finish their meal, or that something is stuck in their throat?
30% of patients with oropharyngeal dysphagia also have an esophageal pathology (Belafsky et al, 2008). If you work with people experiencing dysphagia, most likely you have come across complications with reflux. Incidence is on the rise, particularly due to changes in FDA policies requiring higher standards of food preservation that resulted in acidification of bottled and canned foods in the 1970s. Esophageal cancer is the fastest growing cancer in the United States with a prevalence increasing 850% since 1975 (Kaufman et al, 2014).
The speech-language pathologist is in a unique position to gather details of case history, conduct a medication review, observe of functional impairments, evaluate of voice, swallow, and oro-pharyngeal function before referring to GI or ENT. SLPs can also offer reflux counseling in a therapeutic setting.
This quick reference guide is packed with statistics meant to arm you with information needed to establish a complete picture of a patient struggling with both dysphagia and reflux.
Check out Denise Dougherty, MA, CCC-SLP’s continuing education course
This information came from a fabulous presentation by Denise Dougherty, MA, CCC-SLP and is Continuing Education Course #7532 available at Speechpathology.com. I strongly encourage anyone who wants to improve their knowledge of reflux to check it out. She presents a two part series titled Reflux: The Impact on Our Patients and Evidence Based Treatments and provides 2 credit hours packed with information that will improve your competence and grow your abilities to confidently deferentially diagnose reflux and its effects on the dysphagia population. By the end of the first presentation, you will be able to:
- Identify function and dysfunction of the upper esophageal sphincter, esophagus, and lower esophageal sphincter
- Describe specific disease processes/disorders that contribute to reflux
- Describe the impact of diet, smoking medications and other risk factors that contribute to reflux.
By the end of the second course, you will be able to:
- Identify the tests available to diagnose reflux
- Describe the impact of medications and diet for treating reflux
- Identify the surgical and endoscopic treatments that have been found to have positive outcomes on reflux if pharmacology is not providing benefits for the patient
As always, if you have ideas to improve the quality of this free download, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!
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Although I have read books about reflux, I learned new info from this download. As a person with a hiatal hernia and a hx of GERD, I am aware of the problems of reflux. Thanks