Ear Nose and Throat

Voice and Swallowing

Fayetteville Otolaryngology voice and swallowing services include the evaluation and treatment of voice and swallowing disorders.

Voice Disorders

Voice disorders may include pain, discomfort or fatigue when voicing.  Voice disorders range from a mild laryngitis, hoarseness, changes in pitch, voice tremor to severe life threating diseases that may require extensive treatments.  Any hoarseness or voice change which persists for longer than two weeks should be medically evaluated.

What are the symptoms of voice disorders?

Voice disorders may include:

  • Hoarseness
  • Loss of voice, voice breaks
  • Changes in pitch
  • Shortness of breath while speaking or singing
  • Difficulty maintaining/ initiating soft voice
  • Difficulty maintaining/ initiating loud voice
  • Sore or scratchy throat
  • Vocal fatigue when talking
  • Neck and/ or jaw muscle tension
  • Loss of singing range
  • Prolonged warm-up time
  • Constant throat clearing or coughing
  • Dry throat or mouth
  • Tickling or choking sensation
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Lump in throat
  • Frequent bad breath
  • Excess mucous or phlegm
  • Acidic taste in mouth

Swallowing Disorders

Difficulty in swallowing (dysphagia) is common among all age groups, especially the elderly.  The term dysphagia refers to the feeling of difficulty passing food or liquid from the mouth to the stomach.  Difficulties in swallowing rarely represent a more serious disease, such as a tumor or a progressive neurological disorder.  If the difficulty does not clear up by itself in a short period of time, evaluation is prudent.

What are the symptoms of swallowing disorders?

Swallowing disorder symptoms may include:

  • Drooling
  • A feeling that food or liquid is sticking in the throat
  • Discomfort in the throat or chest
  • A sensation of a foreign body or lump in throat
  • Weight loss
  • Coughing or choking caused by bits of food, liquid or saliva not passing easily during swallowing, and being sucked into the lungs
  • Voice change

How are swallowing disorders treated?

Many swallowing disorders can be treated with medication prescribed by your doctor or are available over the counter. Drugs that slow stomach acid production, muscle relaxants, and antacids are a few of the many medicines available. Treatment is tailored to the particular cause of the swallowing disorder.

Gastro esophageal reflux is a frequent cause of throat symptoms and can often be treated by changing eating and living habits in these ways.

  • Eat a bland diet with smaller, more frequent meals
  • Eliminate tobacco, alcohol and caffeine
  • Reduce weight and stress
  • Avoid food within three hours of bedtime
  • Elevate the head of the bed at night
  • If these don’t help, antacids between meals and at bedtime may provide relief.

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