Everyone experiences a sore throat from time to time. Although sore throats can be painful and annoying, most sore throats are caused by misuse or minor illness and go away without additional medical attention. Our ENT doctors are well trained in treating throat disease (infections, obstructions, trauma, cancer and upper neck maladies) with medications, minor throat surgery and major corrective throat surgery. Additionally, our specialists have expertise in managing diseases of the larynx and upper tract of the esophagus, which can cause patients to have trouble with breathing, swallowing or speaking.
Did you suddenly lose your voice?
Hoarseness, coughing, frequent throat clearing, and a sensation of something stuck in the throat (globus sensation) are the most common symptoms observed when there is a vocal cord problem*. The most common causes of these symptoms are: acid reflux, infection (laryngitis), voice abuse (common in screamers), vocal cord paralysis, smoking, vocal cord nodules, swallowing a foreign object, polyps and vocal cord cancer.
*NOTE: If there is not a serious underlying cause, the symptoms will usually go away in a few days. Any time they last for more than a few days, the vocal cords need to be examined.
Acute & Chronic Laryngitis
Our voice is the sounds produced by air passing through the vocal folds (vocal cords). The airflow comes from the lungs, which act as a pump that forces air through the voice box (larynx). The muscles in the larynx, primarily under the control of the tenth cranial nerve (laryngeal nerve), cause the vocal cords to open and close, resulting in audible sound pulses. The laryngeal muscles adjust the length and tension of the vocal cords to fine-tune the tone and pitch. The tongue, cheeks, lips and palate (the articulators) filter the sound and are the final modifiers of speech.
Most cases of acute laryngitis are temporary and the loss of voice gets better after the underlying cause improves. Chronic laryngitis usually lasts longer than three weeks and is generally caused by exposure to irritants over time. Chronic laryngitis can cause vocal cord strain and injuries, or growths on the vocal cords (polyps or nodules).
Pediatric Throat & Voice Problems
Younger patients tend to suffer with many of the same throat problems that adult patients face. Our doctors also evaluate and treat pediatric speech disorders caused by abnormal tongue, palate, lip, or cheek movement. For example, "tongue tie" is a frequent cause of speech and feeding problems in children and is easily treated with a procedure that removes a band of tissue from under the tongue. Many speech problems require a more detailed evaluation and coordination of treatment with a speech therapist.