Treatment for Voice and Swallowing Disorders at the New York Sleep Sinus & Thyroid Surgery Center

Voice And Swallowing Disorders Treatment
TEL:646.943.7985310 14Th STREET, SIXTH FLOOR NEW YORK, NEW YORK, 10003FAX:212.979.4315

Voice & Swallowing Disorders

People with voice and swallowing disorders may experience changes in their voice sound or function, as well as difficulty swallowing or frequent choking while eating.  Voice and swallowing functions are important for obvious reasons:  swallowing brings nourishment to our bodies, and voice allows us to communicate.  But, many people don’t realize that the vocal cords play a prominent role in the swallowing process.  In fact, the primary purpose of the vocal cords is to prevent food and drink from entering the airway when we swallow.  While many people experience temporary problems with voice and swallowing after an illness or infection, when problems persist for weeks after the illness is resolved, they need to be evaluated and treated. 

Voice Problems

Causes of voice problems can be temporary, such as when you are cheering too long at an athletic event, or when you have a cold or other illness that can cause swelling in the vocal chords.  However, if you have voice changes that persist for more than 2-4 weeks after your illness, you need to be evaluated to rule out more serious medical conditions, such as vocal cord polyps or cancer. 

Swallowing

Swallowing is a complex action requiring the involvement of the brain, nervous system, throat, esophagus and more than 25 different muscles.  When people have difficulty swallowing, known as dysphagia, it could signal a serious underlying condition, such as autoimmune disease or cancer.  Additionally, difficulty swallowing may result in frequent food and beverage aspirations, which could lead to lung scarring, and even asphyxiation.

Signs of Voice Disorders Signs of Swallowing Disorders
Persistent hoarseness Frequent choking on food
Vocal fatigue Pain when swallowing
Change in pitch Hesitancy in food passage
Hissing or “breathiness” when speaking Recurring pneumonia
Excessive coughing  
Excessive throat clearing  

How are voice and swallowing disorders diagnosed?

Dr. Shin will conduct a thorough physical examination, including a comprehensive medical history.  Additional tests will depend on your specific condition, but may include endoscopic examination of the throat and vocal tract, imaging studies such as CT scans and MRI, vocal assessment by speech and language specialists, and other appropriate tests.

Possible Causes of Voice Disorders Possible Causes of Swallowing Disorders
Over-use of voice Infection
Smoking Neurological disorders
Certain medications Autoimmune disorders
Illness, such as cold or bronchitis Aging
Vocal cord weakness or paralysis Benign tumors
Vocal cord polyps or nodules Anxiety
Chemical exposure Gastroesophageal reflux disease
Gastroesophageal reflux disease Certain medications
Thyroid disease Neck or throat trauma
Neurological disorders Enlargement of the heart
Neck trauma Congenital deformities
Intubation during surgery Endocrine diseases
Allergies Intubation during surgery
Cancer Cancer

How are voice and swallowing disorders treated?

Treatment will depend on the causes for your specific condition, and may include medications, surgery, treatment of underlying conditions such as thyroid disease or reflux, speech therapy, and lifestyle modifications, such as smoking cessation.  Dr. Shin will discuss all the treatment options with you.

How do I get more information about voice and swallowing disorders?

Dr. Shin and his team will be happy to discuss voice and swallowing disorders with you.  Please call 646.943.7985 to arrange for a private consultation or schedule an appointment online at our downtown Manhattan office.