Voice and Swallowing Disorders
People with voice and swallowing disorders may experience changes in their voice sound or function, as well as difficulty swallowing or frequent choking while eating. Voice and swallowing functions are important for obvious reasons: swallowing brings nourishment to our bodies, and voice allows us to communicate. Many people don’t realize that the vocal cords play a prominent role in the swallowing process. In fact, the primary purpose of the vocal cords is to prevent food and drink from entering the airway when we swallow.
While many people experience temporary problems with voice and swallowing after an illness or infection, when problems persist for weeks after the illness is resolved, they need to be evaluated and treated.
Dysphonia is a medical term for voice disorders and hoarseness. Causes of voice problems can be temporary, such as when you are cheering too long at an athletic event, or when you have a cold or other illness that can cause swelling in the vocal chords. However, if you have voice changes that persist for more than 2-4 weeks after your illness, you need to be evaluated to rule out more serious medical conditions, such as vocal cord polyps or cancer.
Symptoms of dysphonia may include:
- Dry scratchy throat
- Hoarse voice
- Sore throat
Dr. Sigari will be able review the potential causes, assess the patient’s overall health and past medical history to guide you to the best treatment options.
Swallowing is a complex action requiring the involvement of the brain, nervous system, throat, esophagus and more than 25 different muscles. When people have difficulty swallowing, known as dysphagia, it could signal a serious underlying condition, such as autoimmune disease or cancer. Additionally, difficulty swallowing may result in frequent food and beverage aspirations, which could lead to lung scarring, and even asphyxiation. The doctors of Del Rey ENT Associates are leading experts in the most advanced treatments for voice and swallowing problems.
Symptoms of swallowing disorders may include:
- Feeling that something is stuck in your throat
- Coughing while eating
- Voice Change – Wet or gurgly sounding voice during or after eating or drinking
- Recurring pneumonia or chest congestion
- Weight loss or dehydration due to prolonged swallowing problems
Swallowing Disorder Diagnosis
When dysphagia is persistent and the causes aren’t apparent. Dr. Sigari will employ the following:
- Visual examination (using mirrors, watching patients drink water to check for aspiration, etc.)
- FEES (Fiber optic Endoscopic Evaluation of Swallowing) where a small tube is inserted via the nose and is given food.
- FEESST (Flesible Endoscopic Evaluation of Swallowing with Sensory Testing)
- TNE (TransNasal Esophagoscopy)
Swallowing Disorder Treatment
Treatments are tailored to each individual patient. Once diagnosed, treatment can range from:
- Swallowing therapy