Speech Therapy and Breath Support

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Just like most things our bodies perform automatically, breath support is a bodily function we tend to overlook.  We wake up breathing, go to sleep breathing, and continue breathing every second of every day.  Really phenomenal when you think about it.

According to Merriam-Webster, respiration is defined as:

     “The physical and chemical process by which an organism supplies its cells and tissue with oxygen needed for metabolism and releases them of the carbon dioxide formed in energy-producing reactions.”

Inhalation brings in oxygen and exhalation expels carbon dioxide.  Carbon dioxide is technically waste from our cells.  As we breathe in oxygen, our cells utilize this for processing glucose into energy.  The carbon dioxide, water, and ATP energy (all considered to be a waste product) are expelled during exhalation.  

Quite a complex process necessary for our bodies to process oxygen to our blood supply and lungs to keep our minds sharp, our bodies strong, and to sustain overall endurance for daily living.

How does breath support affect speech?  How does breath support affect eating and drinking?

Think about climbing a flight of stairs.  When you reach the top you are probably out of breath.   If you have to say something, it will probably be in short simple words: “Yes, hang on, let me catch my breath!”.

Sound familiar?  It does to everyone.  We’ve all done this before and will do it again.

The act of speaking or eating requires good strong lungs.  We need to have good breath support to sing, shout, and carry on conversations.  If we are tired, not feeling well, or injured; our speech will be affected.  It will be softer and weaker reflecting how we feel.

When we eat or drink we must stop talking to protect our airway.  Our swallowing mechanism is the same system we use to speak with.  This is why we can not speak and eat at the same time.  

Our vocal folds must close tightly to prevent food or water from entering our lungs via the trachea (windpipe).  This, in turn, allows the food or water to pass into the esophagus without passing between the vocal folds and into the lungs.

While eating or drinking, with the vocal folds closed tightly for a few seconds, we are not breathing during this brief period.  Normally, this isn’t even noticeable.  However, if someone is weak for one reason or another, this brief moment without breathing can seem like hours.

 Medically compromised people have difficulty eating due to reduced overall physical strength.  

Yes, I know, we do challenge this sometimes by eating and talking simultaneously.  I also know you must stop talking long enough to swallow your food.  

As you see, our physical well-being is important for many reasons.  Our lungs need to be strong to support our bodies from head to toe.  Without strong lungs we can expect to have difficulty speaking, eating, drinking, walking, and even sitting for long periods of time.

 Speech Therapy addresses breath support with little kids and adults.  It’s hard to imagine having speech problems because of weakness but it is very common.

Walk every chance you get!  Don’t take the elevator-take the stairs. Park in the back of the parking lot and remember to take slow deep breaths (inhalation & exhalation) throughout the day.  

Think about this as you practice:
Smell the rose…….and blow out the candle!!


I hope this was useful information for you!  



Pamela




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  • Eating Difficulties | An Audio Course | FREE PREVIEW 00:00

FREE Preview for Eating Difficulties - Audio Course

Welcome to the Free Preview for Eating Difficulties

If you are here listening to this course, it is because you or someone you care for is having problems eating, chewing their foods, and/ or drinking.  Sometimes it is due to a medical problem such as having a stroke, a surgical procedure, or a muscular problem just to name a few reasons.  

If this is why you are here, you are in the right place.  It’s not enough to go to the doctor to find out what’s wrong, you need to know how to help yourself.  You must educate yourself as much as possible regarding the topic.  If the topic is high blood pressure, then learn everything you can: 

-what causes high blood pressure

-how can you lower blood pressure

-what makes it better

-what makes it worse

 My advice is ‘be proactive’.  So you can live a healthy, happy, and productive life.

This is the free preview lesson to make sure you are in the right place.  I am Pamela your host for this lesson as well as the Eating Difficulties course.  I am a speech language pathologist with 24 years experience   working with people who have eating problems.  

What you are probably thinking is why is a Speech Pathologist helping people eat?  Well, every patient I’ve ever had wanted to know this question. Most reply “I can talk just fine, I do not need speech therapy”. 

The answer is this:  All of the muscles we use to speak with, we also use to eat with.  This is why we cannot talk and eat at the same time.  Our airway closes when we swallow our food, if we try talking when swallowing; we all know what will happen.  We will choke.  This is why speech pathologists are the professionals taking care of people with speaking problems, eating problems, thinking problems, and much more.

I have spent my professional life in rural hospitals, nursing homes, home health settings, and as a tele therapist (long before COVID).  The majority of my cases include swallowing problems.  It is that common.  Everyone takes eating and drinking for granted until they can’t eat, get choked when eating, or choked when drinking.  

Actually, people who have eating problems will ‘just live with it’ for years until it becomes too much to avoid or leads to a hospital stay where it may or may not get noticed. 

 I have had patient’s anywhere from newborn to 90+ years old with eating problems.  It is a universal problem.  Anyone can have problems eating or drinking at any given time or age.  Our swallowing mechanism is controlled by our nervous system, muscles, respiratory system, and our brain.  A problem in any of these areas can lead to a swallowing problem.

This course is an introductory course into the swallowing mechanism.  What you will learn is basic and useful information pertaining to foods and liquids.  Simple changes and increased awareness of how foods and liquids are categorized to meet the specific needs of each individual.  Because some foods are harder to chew, some are harder to keep together, and some are easier to manage.  What works for one person might not work for another.

I am grateful you are seeking more information and I am here to teach you what I know. I have chosen to seek out how to reach more people because I have witnessed how many times people overlook their eating problems or cannot find the help they need.  

Well, there is only one of me.  Therefore, I have taught myself on how to provide these courses for anyone seeking help.  I realized this was the path I needed to take to provide this information for those who wanted and needed my service.  This is available for more people than I can see one on one.  A wider reach means more people can live a better life starting today! It is my pleasure to be here and I am grateful to have you here.

What will you learn?

-how foods are categorized 

-which foods are easier to chew 

-which foods are more difficult to chew

-how liquids can cause problems

-how eating difficulties can lead to pneumonia and even death

-signs to look for when having eating difficulties

-ways to make immediate changes with food choices to start eating and drinking with less difficulty

-safe swallowing strategies: what are they 

-how speech therapists can help

If this sounds like the information you need and have been searching for- this course is meant for you.  This is an audio course.  It was made to be simple. Sign up with your log in information, pay for the course, and start listening.  No schedule to worry about. No classes to attend.  No live webinar.  Just start listening, learning, and improving your life right now!

Thanks for listening!

Pamela

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