Two throat problems that are sure to get your attention are ones involving either your voice or your ability to swallow.
If your voice isn’t improving with self-care efforts or your ability to swallow doesn’t improve after a minor sore throat clears up, a voice and swallowing doctor in Los Angeles can tell you why and recommend appropriate treatments.
Treating Voice-Related Problems
Your voice is the result of air moving over tissues known as vocal cords, which are actually two folds of tissue inside the “voice box” or larynx. If something is affecting these folds, you may notice changes in your voice that include:
- Differences with your voice’s tone and pitch
- An inability to project
- Soreness that’s triggered when you attempt to sing or project
- A loss of the ability to speak
Since voice problems like laryngitis are sometimes related to chronic coughing, GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), or the long-term use of an inhaler for asthma, a voice and swallowing doctor in Los Angeles often asks about medical history.
Treatment can also be provided for vocal cord paresis or paralysis related to a viral infection or a nerve injury. Nerve irritation or damage can also contribute to vocal cord spams (spasmodic dysphonia). Other patients benefit from speech therapy, medication, and other voice-related treatments for:
- Thyroid problems
- Vocal cord inflammation and swelling
- Abnormal vocal cord growths
- Vocal cord nodules
- Voice-related abuse or misuse
- Vocal cord bleeding
Identifying and Treating Swallowing Disorders
Muscle movement involving the mouth, throat, and “food tube” (esophagus) are responsible for your normal swallowing abilities. Swallowing is a vital function sometimes affected if you have a feeling of having food stuck in your mouth (dysphagia) or throat or chest pain aggravated by swallowing (odynophagia).
A voice and swallowing doctor in Los Angeles often uses a special lighted scope with an attached camera (upper endoscopy) to get a batter look inside your throat to see what’s behind your swallowing difficulties. If abnormal tissue is found, a biopsy may be necessary to determine if it’s cancerous or benign.
In some instances, reflux activity is tracked with wireless pH testing or the use of a thin, flexible catheter. Other times, a “barium swallow test” that involves a special liquid (barium) and an X-ray is done. Treatment for swallowing problems recommended by an L.A. specialist may include:
- Removal of a throat obstruction that’s affecting swallowing
- Treatment for GERD
- Tissue removal and other surgical procedures
- Dietary changes
Diagnosing and Treating Related Throat Problems
Both voice and swallowing problems originate within your throat. For this reason, a voice and swallowing doctor in Los Angeles will also evaluate all parts of your throat to determine if there is something out of the ordinary that’s contributing to your symptoms. Chronically irritated tonsils, for instance, could produce a thicker or deeper voice or make it difficult to swallow. A bacterial infection called a peritonsillar abscess (PTA) could produce similar symptoms. It’s not unusual for the treatment of underlying issues like this to resolve voice-related or swallowing difficulties.
It’s also worth considering a visit to a voice and swallowing doctor in Los Angeles if you are experiencing a gradual change in your vocal quality or your ability to swallow comfortably. In some instances, personalized advice concerning your diet habits or how you care for your throat could contribute to noticeable improvements.