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After Effects of Covid-19
Cognition and Swallowing Among the Common Challenges Persisting for Many Americans After COVID-19
Speech-Language Pathologists Can Help Patients Regain Health and Quality of Life
With an estimated 10 to 30% of COVID-19 survivors experiencing “long-haul” symptoms including brain fog and swallowing difficulties. Healthcare professionals are encouraging the public to seek care from qualified experts who can help them regain their functioning and quality of life.
The pandemic has posed so many challenges to us all as a society, but one of the persisting and most vexing ones right now is the daunting set of difficulties many people are having for months after contracting COVID-19. From brain fog, to difficulty eating and drinking, to speech and language problems, these can affect return to work, the ability to take care of one’s family, and overall recovery. Many people don’t know about the services of speech-language pathologists—professionals trained in these areas who can make a huge difference for these people. This is an important time for us to spread the word: Help is available.”
How They Help
Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) can help people with, or recovering from, COVID-19 who are having short- and longer-term difficulties in the following areas:
Many COVID-19 “long-haulers” are reporting persistent brain fog as a debilitating symptom after their bout with the virus. This can prevent a return to work and impact their ability to tend to family responsibilities. SLPs can work with individuals to improve their memory, attention, organization and planning, problem solving, learning, and social communication—such as re-learning conversational rules or understanding the intent behind a message or behind nonverbal cues. The focus is on the person’s specific challenges as well as regaining the skills that are most important to their daily life and priorities.
People diagnosed with COVID-19 may experience swallowing problems that can put them at risk for choking or aspirating, which is when food goes into the lungs instead of the stomach. This may be the result of time spent on a ventilator, or it may be another side effect of the virus. SLPs use different types of tests to determine what happens when a person swallows and how the related muscles are working—helping a patient’s medical team, including the SLP, decide on the best course of action with the patient and their family. SLPs may recommend modified textures of food and drink for patients; therapy exercises to strengthen the tongue, lips, and muscles in the mouth and throat; and strategies to make eating and drinking safer, such as modifying the pace of chewing/eating, size of food, and more.
People diagnosed with COVID-19 are also experiencing speech and language difficulties. Some, such as those who spent a significant amount of time on a ventilator or experienced low oxygen to the brain, may have muscle weakness or reduced coordination in the muscles of the face, lips, tongue, and throat—making it difficult to talk. Others, particularly those who experienced a COVID-related stroke, may experience a language disorder called aphasia—which makes it hard for someone to understand, speak, read, or write. SLPs work with patients through targeted therapy to improve their communication and understanding.
People who have severe speech and/or language difficulties may need to find other ways to answer questions or tell people what they want, such as through gesturing with their hands, pointing to letters or pictures on a paper or board, or using a computer. These are all forms of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). SLPs help find the appropriate AAC method to meet an individual’s needs.
Where to Find Care
SLPs work in settings that include hospitals, long- and short-term care facilities, private practices, and patients’ homes. Many SLPs are also providing their services via telehealth at this time. If you or a loved one are experiencing communication challenges, do something about it by letting your doctor know.
(Source:www.asha.org, BHSM resources)
Untreated Hearing Concerns
Hearing Loss Common, Yet Often Ignored by Adults
Hearing Experts Urge Residents to Act Now on Hearing Loss as Country Recognizes Better Hearing & Speech Month in May
With an estimated 48 million Americans experiencing hearing loss, audiologists are encouraging the public to act on the early signs of trouble—for the benefit of their health, cognitive well-being, physical safety, and overall quality of life. The message is a timely one, as May is recognized nationally as Better Hearing & Speech Month (BHSM).
We know that many adults wait years or even decades before getting help for their hearing loss, believing that they are getting by just fine. However, many aren’t doing as well as they think they are—and we want people to not just get by but to thrive in their work and lives. As we learn more about the connection that hearing loss has to many other health and medical conditions, as well as how hearing loss can impact personal relationships, career success, and overall happiness and satisfaction, we hope more people become motivated to take the next step and seek out a hearing evaluation from a certified audiologist.
These are some questions that adults should ask themselves about their hearing, including:
Do you have dizziness, pain, or ringing in your ears?
Do people around you often seem to mumble?
Do you often need to ask people to repeat themselves?
Do others complain about you turning up the TV volume too high?
Do you have trouble following conversation when more than one person is talking?
Do you have trouble hearing on the phone?
Do you have to listen carefully or put in extra effort to understand conversation?
Do you have trouble hearing in noisy environments, such as restaurants?
If you answer yes to one or more of these questions, you’d likely benefit from a hearing evaluation.
More Than a Nuisance
The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) stresses that hearing loss is more than a harmless annoyance. If you have a hearing loss, you might have a higher risk of developing certain health conditions. This is especially true for people who let their hearing loss go untreated. These health conditions include the following:
falls and other injuries
cognitive decline and dementia
Studies have shown that hearing loss is also associated with these outcomes:
higher medical costs
more hospitalizations, increased risk of hospital readmission, and longer hospital stays
By taking action, you may be able to help mitigate many of these risks. If you think you—or a loved one—might have hearing loss, schedule a hearing evaluation today. Audiologists can help with a variety of treatment approaches. Local residents can schedule a hearing evaluation by calling a local hospital or audiology office near your home.
What is Early Intervention?
Early intervention (EI) helps children achieve important milestones and life skills right from the start. It also helps families support their child’s development and growth. EI is “family centered,” meaning that the family takes an active role in intervention services—and all treatment is based on a family’s needs and preferences.
(Source: www.asha.org/BHSM resources)