This visual quick guide to reflux is designed for speech-language pathologists who work with patients experiencing dysphagia possibly related to reflux.
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.