Dysphagia? Otolaryngology? Don't let medical terminology scare you off, we will explain all terminology and procedures to your satisfaction.
Oral (Mouth-Tongue) Disorders
There are a multitude of benign, malignant, infectious and medical causes that can affect the appearance, sensation and function of the oral cavity. Only through a very accurate history and physical examination by a qualified physician can an accurate diagnosis and treatment be made.
Pharyngitis/Stomatitis/Glossitis- acute and chronic swelling, both painful and asymptomatic may affect the oral mucosa (lining). Some of the causes are listed below.
Viral infections • Bacterial infections • Allergic reactions • Acid reflux • Alcohol/tobacco • Stress • Hormonal changes • Vitamin deficiency • Mouth breathing • Poor dental hygiene (caries) • Leukoplakia (white plaques) • Benign and Malignant tumors • Leukemia • Denture ware (ill-fitting)
Snoring is a common problem experienced by many. While we sleep, the muscles in our body relax, including those in and around the throat.
As we breathe, air flows past tissues in the nose and throat, causing them to vibrate. The sound of this vibration is what we refer to as snoring. In its earliest stages, snoring may only cause minimal disruption to sleep. Chronic snoring can interrupt, and reduce the quality of sleep for someone, as well as those around them.
People who sleep next to a chronic snorer can lose on average one hour of sleep each night. Losing sleep can cause irritability, high blood pressure, difficulty concentrating and fatigue, which can be extremely dangerous while driving or operating machinery. Many couples cope with snoring by sleeping in separate rooms. This often puts strain on a relationship, and contributes to a loss of intimacy.
There are ways to address factors that contribute to snoring. Losing weight, quitting smoking, avoiding alcohol prior to sleeping, or sleeping on your side can all help reduce snoring. For more severe cases, medical devices and surgery are available that may reduce disruptive snoring. If you or someone you know is living with a snoring problem, speak with your doctor and ask about which options may be appropriate for you.
Sleep apnea is a potentially serious disorder, in which breathing during sleep repeatedly becomes too shallow, or stops altogether. The most common type of sleep apnea is called obstructive sleep apnea, and occurs when the muscles in the back of the throat relax during sleep. When the muscles relax, the airway narrows or closes, and breathing momentarily stops. If you think you might have sleep apnea, talk to your doctor immediately.
Hoarseness is any unnatural deepening and harsh quality of the voice. Only normal functioning vocal cords are capable of producing the sharp and crisp vocal quality of a normal voice.
Hoarseness may occur acutely and is frequently associated with a virus or a cold. It usually is self-limiting and requires little treatment other than rest. When hoarseness worsens or prolongs, a thorough ENT exam should be sought to determine the cause.
Causes of Hoarseness:
- Abuse (singers, auctioneers, mothers)
- Allergies (throat clearing)
- Bronchitis (chronic coughing)
- Sinusitis (infections, drainage)
- Acid Reflux (hiatal hernia)
- Tumors (benign and malignant) of the throat and neck
- Vocal cord nodules/polyps
- Vocal cord paralysis/weakness from tumors or neurological problems
- Tobacco/alcohol (irritants)
- Rhumatoid arthritis
Visualization of the vocal cords is mandatory for proper evaluation of hoarseness and may be accomplished in the office via a head light and laryngeal mirror or a flexible nasopharyngoscope. If this is not well tolerated and or reveals suspicious findings, a direct laryngoscopic examination under general anesthesia is recommended. Other diagnostic tests aiding laryngeal function evaluation are:
- Barium swallow
- CT scan
- MRI of neck and chest
Any persistent hoarseness or changing voice quality necessitates an accurate assessment by a qualified ENT specialist.