Advanced ENT specializes in treating all manner of swallowing and voice disorders.
Any interruption in the swallowing process can cause difficulties. Eating slowly and chewing thoroughly can help reduce problems with swallowing. However, difficulties may be due to a range of other causes, including something as simple as poor teeth, ill fitting dentures, or a common cold. One of the most common causes of dysphagia is gastro esophageal reflux. This occurs when stomach acid moves up the esophagus to the pharynx, causing discomfort.
Symptoms of swallowing disorders may include:
- A feeling that food or liquid is sticking in the throat
- Discomfort in the throat or chest (when gastro esophageal reflux is present)
- A sensation of a foreign body or lump in the throat
- Weight loss and inadequate nutrition due to prolonged or more significant problems with swallowing
- Coughing or choking caused by bits of food, liquid, or saliva not passing easily during swallowing
- Voice change
Abnormal changes in the voice are called hoarseness. When hoarse, the voice may sound breathy, raspy, strained, or show changes in volume or pitch (depending on how high or low the voice is). Voice changes are related to disorders in the sound-producing parts (vocal folds) of the voice box (larynx).
Some causes of voice disorders may include:
- Acute Laryngitis. The most common cause is acute laryngitis swelling of the vocal folds that occurs during a common cold, upper respiratory tract viral infection, or from voice strain.
- Voice Misuse. Speaking in noisy situations, excessive use, using inappropriate pitch (too high or too low) when speaking and not using amplification when public speaking.
- Benign Vocal Cord Lesions. Prolonged hoarseness can occur when you use your voice too much, or too loudly for extended periods of time. These habits can lead to nodules, polyps, and cysts. Vocal nodules (singers nodes) are callus-like growths of the vocal folds.
- Vocal Hemorrhage. Vocal fold hemorrhage occurs when one of the blood vessels on the surface of the vocal folds ruptures and the soft tissues fill with blood. It is considered a vocal emergency.
- Gastroesophageal Reflux (GERD). A possible cause of hoarseness is gastro-esophageal reflux, when stomach acid comes up the swallowing tube (esophagus) and irritates the vocal folds.
- Smoking. Smoking is another cause of hoarseness. Because smoking is the major cause of throat cancer, if smokers become hoarse, they should see an otolaryngologist.
- Neurological Diseases or Disorders: Hoarseness can also appear in those who have neurological diseases such as Parkinsons or a stroke, or may be a symptom of spasmodic dysphonia, a rare neurological disorder that usually affects only the voice.