Swallowing and Voice Disorders
What are swallowing and voice disorders?
A voice disorder is a voice that sounds out of the ordinary or calls attention to itself due to problems with pitch, loudness or quality. Many things can cause vocal changes including growths, overuse, neurological disorders, and post-surgical effects.
A swallowing disorder is an impairment of the ability to pass saliva, liquid and food through the digestive tract. This can have a significant impact on your nutritional impact. Some causes of feeding and swallowing problems in adults are:
- Damage to the nervous system, such as:
- Brain or spinal cord injury.
- Parkinson’s disease.
- Multiple sclerosis.
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease).
- Muscular Dystrophy.
- Cerebral Palsy.
- Alzheimer’s disease.
- Problems affecting the head and neck, including:
- Cancer in the mouth, throat, or esophagus.
- Injury or surgery involving the head and neck.
- Decayed or missing teeth, or poorly fitting dentures.
Diagnosis & Treatment Options
How are swallowing and voice disorders diagnosed?
Some of the following tests may be used to diagnosis individuals who are experiencing problems eating and drinking:
- Physical exam and history.
- Examination of the strength and movement of the muscles involved in swallowing.
- Observe feeding to see posture, behavior, and oral movements during eating and drinking.
- Modified barium swallow.
- Endoscopic assessment.
How are swallowing and voice disorders treated?
Treatment depends on the cause, symptoms, and type of swallowing problem. Treatment may include:
- Specific exercises to improve muscle movement.
- Positions or strategies to help the individual swallow more effectively.
- Specific food and liquid textures that are easier and safer to swallow.
Preparing for Care
What are swelling and voice disorder care options?
During your initial consultation, you will likely undergo a comprehensive evaluation that will include:
- Complete medical history.
- Physical examination.
- Possible endoscopic evaluation of the vocal fold (either transoral or transnasal endoscopy or videostroboscopy).
Your provider will use this information to create a diagnostic and therapeutic plan tailored to your specific needs.