Many factors can cause a person to have voice problems or difficulty swallowing. Fortunately, most of these conditions aren’t serious and can be treated easily. Regardless, if you are experiencing a voice or swallowing disorder, it’s best to have a laryngologist or other ENT specialist give you a full evaluation.
Common Voice Disorders
A voice disorder is any condition that affects the larynx, or voice box, and is marked by a change in pitch, volume, or quality of sound. Symptoms may include hoarseness; a raspy, scratchy, or weak voice; shortness of breath; and, in some cases, a total loss of voice. Causes vary, and range from infections and allergies to acid reflux, vocal cord nodules and polyps, and cancer. Finding the underlying cause is important.
To test for a voice disorder, your doctor will give you a physical examination, and check your vocal cords for irregularities. Diagnostic tests, such as acoustic analysis and laryngeal electromyography, may be ordered.
Treatment depends on the diagnosis. Home remedies – resting your vocal cords and drinking plenty of liquids, giving up smoking, etc. – are often enough to help ease your symptoms. Medications to treat inflammation or acid reflux are available, and surgical removal of vocal cord lesions may be required.