Throat & Voice
Hoarseness, Speech, and Vocal Cords
Hoarseness is a general term which describes abnormal voice changes. When hoarse, the voice may sound breathy, raspy, strained, or there may be changes in volume (loudness) or pitch (how high or low the voice is). The changes in sound are usually due to disorders related to the vocal folds, which are the sound-producing parts of the voice box.
There are many causes of hoarseness, but most are not serious and tend to go away in a short period of time. The most common causes are acute laryngitis, which usually occurs due to swelling from a common cold, upper respiratory tract infection, or irritation caused by excessive voice use such as screaming or yelling at a sporting event or concert.
While hoarseness due to a cold or flu may be short-lived and easy to manage, hoarseness that lasts longer than two weeks or has no obvious cause should be evaluated. It is very important to see a doctor if your hoarseness lasts longer than two weeks, or if you experience coughing up blood, difficulty swallowing, a lump in the neck, or a complete loss/change in voice lasting longer than a few days.
Maybe you've heard someone whose voice sounds tight, strangled, broken, whispery, or otherwise not quite right. These are the distinguishing characteristics of spasmodic dysphonia, which is a neurological disorder that causes muscles to contract and spasm involuntarily.
We have successfully used Botox to treat our patients with spasmodic dysphonia. By injecting a small amount of the medication into the muscles surrounding the vocal cords, the symptoms generally subside for a period of 3 to 4 months. Most insurances now cover BOTOX for these treatments!
Speech & Voice Therapy
In addition to all of our medical treatments or procedures for the voice and vocal cords, we provide the services of a certified speech therapist in our office to work one-on-one with our patients. Our speech therapist does a professional voice evaluation for one hour.
We help develop individualized plans of treatment for varying degrees of speech conditions, including sound production, improvement of voice quality, communication, and the professional voice. These sessions are generally 30 minutes a week, and are very effective for many conditions, including singing and speaking.
Radiesse Voice - Do You Have Trouble Speaking?
Many patients who previously suffered from speech disorders have found great improvement using Radiesse® Voice, which is now used to treat vocal fold weaknesses associated with serious aspiration disorders. Muscle weakness or degeneration can lead to poor vocal fold closure and a weak, hoarse voice.
Radiesse Voice also helps patients suffering from Parkinson's, too! Working closely with Huntington neurologists, these treatments have proven to benefit swallowing, aspiration (breathing) problems, speaking, and helps the patient as well as their caregiver.
To accurately diagnose vocal cord disorders, we utilize a technology called videostroboscopy, which is a state-of-the-art technique that provides a magnified, slow-motion view of the patient's vocal cords in action. It allows us to accurately and efficiently diagnose many of the conditions and diseases of the vocal cords, including vocal cord polyps or vocal cord paralysis. If you suffer from hoarseness, a speech impediment, or any other disorder that affects your communication, there are many options to greatly improve your quality of life.
- Please note that there is a $100 fee for canceling your videostroboscopy appointment.
Throat and Throat Health
Thyroid and Parathyroid
Information about thyroid and parathyroid coming soon!
Difficulty swalling (dysphagia) is common among all age groups, but especially the elderly. It may be caused by many factors, most of which are non-threatening and temporary. Rarely, difficulties in swallowing are signs of a more serious issue, such as a tumor or neurological disorder. If the difficulty in swallowing does not clear up by itself within a short period of time, you should see a doctor.
In our office, we do a fiberoptic laryngoscopy procedure in order to see inside your throat for any potential swallowing disorders. This gives an accurate diagnosis, which is crucial to developing a proper and effective treatment plan. The procedure is non-invasive, lasts only a few minutes, and there is no discomfort.
Symptoms of swallowing disorders may include:
- A feeling that food or liquid is sticking in the throat during or after a meal, or while swallowing saliva
- Discomfort in the throat or chest, including acid reflux
- A sensation of a foreign body or lump in the throat
- Weight loss and inadequate nutrition due to prolonged or significant problems swallowing
- Coughing or choking caused by food, liquid, or saliva not easily passed during swallowing, and small amounts of food, liquid, or saliva being sucked into the lungs
Once the cause is determined, our patients may be treated with medication, swallowing therapy, or surgery. Most of these disorders can be treated with medication. Acid reflux is best treated by changing eating and living habits, such as eating a more bland diet, smaller and more frequent meals, elimination of alcohol or caffeine, reducing weight and stress, avoiding food within three hours of bedtime, or elevating your head while sleeping.
Tonsils & Adenoids
The tonsils and adenoids are composed of tissue that is similar to the lymph nodes, strategically located near the entrance to the breathing passages to catch incoming infections. Since they "sample" bacteria and viruses as part of the immune system's first response, they can become infected themselves. This is generally what happens when we experience a sore throat.
The tonsils can also harbor "stones" of bacteria or decaying food matter without causing any type of infection or discomfort. While this is not a serious medical issue, it may be responsible for halitosis, or bad breath, and is something we can help treat. Some of our patients who suffer from sleep apnea or frequently snore may benefit from an airway evaluation. It is not uncommon for the tonsils to be the cause of these disorders. Chronic infection of the tonsils or adenoids can also affect nearby structures such as the eustachian tubes, which is the passage between the back of the nose and the inside of the ear. This can lead to frequent or chronic ear infections, or hearing loss.
Bacterial infections of the tonsils, especially "strep throat", are initially treated with antibiotics. Removal of the tonsils and/or adenoids may be recommended for some children or adults who suffer recurring infections despite antibiotic therapy, or who have difficulty breathing or sleeping due to enlarged tonsils or adenoids. In any case, surgery is always a last resort, and Dr. Kay is very experienced in surgery of both pediatric and adult patients.