Aspiration Pneumonia Prevention

13 posts

Candles burning as hope for dysphagia

HOPE for Dysphagia: Got Your Speech-Language Pathologist?

Hope for Dysphagia: Got a Speech-Language Pathologist on Your Multidisciplinary Dysphagia Team? By Karen M. Sheffler, MS, CCC-SLP, BCS-S of This blog is in response to an article published by the Washington Post on February 25, 2018 in the Health & Science Perspective column titled: “Problems swallowing are a big killer, but the treatment can be horrible,” by Drs Douglas Jacobs and Joshua Lang of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. It seems to […]

Alcohol, sodas, acidic juices, and coffee can all put you at risk for acid reflux.

I Was Told I Have Reflux. What Next?

Gastro-Esophageal Reflux (GERD) & Laryngopharyngeal Reflux (LPR) by Karen M. Sheffler, MS, CCC-SLP, BCS-S of Introduction: Many people who have reflux come for evaluations by a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP), who specializes in difficulty swallowing (dysphagia). Reflux can cause symptoms of dysphagia, namely feelings of choking, coughing during or after meals, food getting stuck, and more. I have heard people express fear of actually choking (asphyxiation – where the food blocks the airway). This sensation […]

DRS Digest 2017: news from the March 1-4, 2017 annual meeting of the Dysphagia Research Society. Held in Portland, OR.

DRS Digest 2017: Raising Awareness through Research

Dysphagia Digest 2017: Raising Awareness regarding Swallowing Disorders & Treatment There was not much time to sample Portland, Oregon’s craft beers or Portland’s famous Salt & Straw ice cream, because the over 500 attendees at the Dysphagia Research Society‘s annual meeting were in stimulating sessions from March 1-4, 2017. DRS is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, so give DRS a big “cheers” with your craft beer now, and read on! The mayor of the […]

The SLP must use the latest evidence to be an agent of change, guiding clinical practice, pushing for the use of validated screens, and using critical thinking.

SLP as Agent of Change at #ASHA16

Agent of Change in Dysphagia by Karen Sheffler, MS, CCC-SLP, BCS-S of As Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs) look forward to the American Speech-Language Hearing Association’s Convention in Philadelphia this November (#ASHA16), please remember those who will not be at the convention. The passing of Steven B. Leder, PhD, CCC-SLP on May 16, 2016 affected many in the dysphagia community. Our hearts have gone out to family, friends and close colleagues. Steven Leder was a constant agent […]

Will the patient agree with your recommendations, taking the straight path? When we use patient-centered communication, we see that decision-making is more complex than a yes or no.

Decision-Making in Dysphagia Management

by Karen Sheffler, MS, CCC-SLP, BCS-S of Negative Press Detracts from Main Issue: Decision-Making in Dysphagia Background: When a person has difficulty swallowing (dysphagia) with high risks for aspiration of thin liquids, one of the most difficult decisions for a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) is whether or not the person would benefit from thickened liquids. SLPs who specialize in dysphagia, know that taking away thin liquids can drastically affect the person’s intake and quality of […]

Two bowls of soup that we could think of as the categories of "pneumonia soup."

Pneumonia Alphabet Soup (Part 2)

Pneumonia Alphabet Soup (Part 2): The Secret Ingredients by Karen Sheffler, MS, CCC-SLP, BCS-S of (Parts 1 & 2 first published by We began deciphering the recipe of pneumonia in Part 1 – Pneumonia Alphabet Soup: Reworking the Recipes. I suggested that it is more important to think about how the pneumonia was acquired, rather than where it was acquired [i.e., community-acquired pneumonia (CAP), health-care-associated pneumonia (HCAP)]. Causes for pneumonia are multifactoral, and the […]

Two bowls of soup that we could think of as the categories of "pneumonia soup."

Pneumonia Alphabet Soup (Part 1)

Pneumonia Alphabet Soup: Reworking the Recipe by Karen Sheffler, MS, CCC-SLP, BCS-S of CAP, HAP, NHAP, HCAP, VAP, DAP, NDAP… Do these all mean pneumonia? Imagine a bowl of alphabet soup with all these letters floating on the surface. What about the broth surrounding the letters? Taste the soup, close your eyes, and ask, “What else could be in there?” Now, here are the letters separated into two “bowls,” showing the complex flavors of each […]

saliva "bubble" with puzzle pieces in it to represent the complexity of saliva. Much is still unknown.

Saliva Puzzle: Saliva Production & Swallowing

The Saliva Puzzle: Saliva Production & Its Influence on Swallowing Guest Authors: Joanne Yee, MS, CF-SLP & Nicole Rogus-Pulia, PhD., CCC-SLP Editor: Karen Sheffler, MS, CCC-SLP, BCS-S of  Aspiration pneumonia (AP) is one of the leading causes of death among older adults, ranking among the top 10 most common diagnoses leading to in-hospital mortality in a recent study.1 The presence of oropharyngeal dysphagia is widely considered one of the most important risk factors for […]

Mature cryptobiotic soil is very lumpy and dark due to not only cyanobacteria, but also the lichen, algae, mosses, and more.

It’s Alive! Oral Microbiome

Microbiomes in the Environment to Your Oral Microbiome! by Karen Sheffler, MS, CCC-SLP, BCS-S of My travels this summer lead me to some pretty harsh environments as we park-hopped through some wondrous national parks, Utah state parks and national monuments. Before I dive into this blog, I want to thank our national park service. We have protected such a treasure in the United States! During our adventure, I was on the lookout for relationships […]

Picture of a dolphin laying back allowing a human to brush his teeth with an electric toothbrush.

How To Perform Effective Oral Care (Part IV)

How to Perform Effective Oral Care for Aspiration Pneumonia Prevention by Karen Sheffler, MS, CCC-SLP, BCS-S, at Only 16% of nurses reported that they brush a patient’s teeth every 4 hours, and 33% reported brushing “rarely or not at all” (Cason, et al, 2007). However, this dolphin is receiving good oral care with an electric toothbrush!   We have explored the many reasons WHY the mouths of critically ill patients need good oral care […]

Picture of rod-shaped Escherichia Coli Bacteria. Commonly found in the lower intestines. However, pathogenic strains take the fecal->oral route of transmission to cause disease.

Take a Trip to the Lungs with 12 Bacterial Species (Part III: Oral Hygiene)

Part III of Oral Hygiene and Aspiration Pneumonia Prevention. By Karen Sheffler, MS, CCC-SLP, BCS-S As we are coming and going from our summer vacations, consider the travels that bacteria may take around the body. The germs in the mouth are the same germs that travel to the lungs to cause pneumonia, according to Shay (2014). These bacteria can be found in the hospital or nursing facility environment, on the staff and visitors, and on […]

The changes in soil composition and pH after a volcanic eruption may be analogous to changes in an oral microbiome or ecosystem after illness and infection.

What Do Volcanoes & Mouths Have in Common? (Part II: Oral Microbiome & Saliva)

Part II of Oral Microbiome and Saliva By Karen Sheffler, MS, CCC-SLP, BCS-S. I was out in the beautiful pacific northwest the summer of 2014, learning about the region’s flora, fauna, volcanos and glaciers. Especially interesting was visiting Mount Saint Helens in Washington state. After 34 years, the destructive power of the 1980 volcanic eruption is still evident. However, this ecosystem or ecobiome is recovering. The ash-filled pumice plain is finally being recolonized. My […]