Some people feel they are constantly spitting cotton—their mouths and throats so dry they can hardly speak. Their dry eyes burn despite incessant drops. These individuals suffer from Sjogren’s syndrome, an autoimmune disorder that affects more than 4 million people in the U.S. alone. Kristine Tanner of the Department of Communication Disorders is conducting research with the goal of finding a long-term solution for chronic throat dryness, including individuals who have Sjogren’s Syndrome.
Tanner’s work was recently recognized at the annual convention of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). Her poster explaining her proposed solution for chronic dry throat received a rank of “exceptional,” the highest rating given. Out of more than 1,000 posters submitted, only two from each category receive this distinction.
The ASHA convention draws over 12 thousand professional attendees each year. “ASHA is such a widely attended conference because it brings together speech, language, and hearing practitioners as well as researchers to share what is happening in the field,” Tanner said. Because of its wide attendance, the conference provides researchers like Tanner a varied and receptive audience for presenting their research and explaining their findings.
Many attendees were excited over Tanner’s research, as current treatment options for throat dryness in Sjogren’s Syndrome are limited, including using humidifiers and drinking water to alleviate symptoms. Tanner has found that a saline mist solves dry throat and vocal cord problems more effectively than a water mist solution. “We are trying to develop new applications for this promising treatment,” Tanner said. For more information about the research article on which the poster was based, click here.