Hoarseness—is a general term that describes abnormal voice changes. The voice may sound breathy, raspy, strained or there may be a change in volume (loudness) or pitch (how high or low the voice is). Changes in sound are usually due to disorders related to the vocal cords that are the sound-producing parts of the voice box (larynx).
Laryngopharyngeal Reflux (LPR)—refers to the backflow of food or stomach acid all of the way back up into the larynx (the voice box) or the pharynx (the throat). LPR can occur during the day or night, even if a person who has LPR hasn’t eaten a thing. LPR occurs when stomach acid comes up the swallowing tube (esophagus), this irritates the vocal cords. Many patients with LPR do not have symptoms of heartburn though may describe the sensation of a lump in their throat, trouble swallowing, excessive mucous or an excessive desire to clear their throat as well as chronic cough.
Swallowing Problems—may result in accumulation of solids or liquids in the throat. When the nerve and muscle interaction in the mouth, throat and food passages (esophagus) aren’t working properly, overflow secretions can spill into the voice box (larynx) and breathing passages (trachea and bronchi) causing hoarseness, throat clearing or cough. Swallowing problems can often be attributed to a number of factors:
Tonsils and Adenoids—are near the entrance to the breathing passages where they can catch incoming germs, which cause infections. The most common problems affecting the tonsils and adenoids are recurrent infections (throat or ear) and significant enlargement or obstruction that causes breathing and swallowing problems. Abscesses around the tonsils, chronic tonsillitis and infections of small pockets within the tonsils that produce foul-smelling, cheese like formations can also affect the tonsils and adenoids, making them sore and swollen. In rare instances, tumors can grow on the tonsils. See our tonsil FAQ to learn more and understand when your child’s tonsils should be removed.
Vocal Nodules—are callous-like growths on the vocal cords that may lead to polyps of the vocal cords (more extensive swelling) that may occur due to vocal abuse including speaking too much, too loudly or improperly over extended periods of time.
If you would like to speak with an ENT doctor about any throat disorders you may have, please schedule an appointment today!
Otolaryngologists complete up to 15 years of college and post-graduate training.
To be certified by the American Board of Otolaryngology, applicants complete college, usually four years of medical school, and at least five years of specialty training. Some then pursue a one– or two–year fellowship for more extensive training in one of the seven subspecialty areas.
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