Monday, March 30, 2015

No Straws?

Maybe you've seen a sign like this somewhere along the way? No matter where you saw it, I can almost guarantee that a speech therapist made it. How would I know that? Because I know that speech therapists hate straws!

But not me!  I love straws and, apparently, I'm not alone.  According to Eco-Cycle International, 500 MILLION straws are used every day in the United States! Wow, that's a lot of straws!

So, as an SLP, I'm going to ask you to consider giving straws a second chance.

Of course, I know straws aren't right for every single person in every single circumstance. (Good clinical judgement must always be used when recommending the use of straw.) However, there are many good reasons for using straws and week after week I encourage my patients to do so! Let's take a look...

Dentists and orthodontists regularly recommend straw drinking to:
  • reduce enamel erosion
  • provide stain protection
  • reduce cavities
  • reduce exposure to temperatures for sensitive teeth

Some people like straws because:
  • they're convenient
  • they're clean
  • they're fun

Sipping from a straw is said to increase the overall amount of liquids you consume. Healthcare professionals routinely promote the benefits of drinking more liquids each day. That's because adequate hydration can:

  • improve kidney function
  • maintain normal bowel function
  • boost immunity
  • prevent dehydration
  • improve skin
  • aid digestion
  • regulate body temperature
  • lubricate joints
  • eliminate wastes and toxins

Straw drinking helps to increase tongue and lip control and coordinated breathing, all of which support our ability to speak with good articulation. Additionally, researchers tell us that as we suck, many of our cranial nerves are stimulated. That's a good thing. To take it even further, scientist have proven that straw drinking enhances inter-hemispheric brain integration. Wow- straws do that?

I'm making a case for straws today because just last week, I sat across from a patient sipping water from a tall glass. He tilted his head back to drink and a tidal wave of liquid entered his mouth.  Guess what?  He began coughing! If only he had a straw, he could have avoided neck hyperextension, he could have better controlled the amount of water he was getting and his lungs would not have been at risk for aspiration or penetration. Because of his good cognition and oral motor function, I say give this man a straw!

Now, having said all of that, there is such thing as a bad straw. Maybe you know the ones I'm talking about? Bad straws are typically extra wide and usually hang out at places like convenience stores and fast food restaurants...stay away from them!

Bad -vs- Good

Good straws, on the other hand, are all over the place...believe me, I'm looking for them everywhere I go. He are a few straws I found this weekend at Target:

A Manon Jar style- how trendy! Bonus points for the no-spill top and wide grip handle.

A straw with stripes, what's not to love? Easy to grip and no-spill too!

These cups are my awesome because the straws are held steady by the cup itself. These may be too juvenile for some, so take that into consideration. 

My daughter loves silly straws...another good option.

This week, take notice of the straws you see and try to categorize them as good or bad- it's a pretty fun game. More than anything though, think of the people you know and ask...

Hope it's a great week for you. Cheers!

Through the lips and over the gums, look out stomach, here it comes!