Throat & Voice

When you can’t speak, or it’s difficult to speak, it can feel debilitating. That’s why it’s important to visit us so we can get to the bottom of it.

Throat & Voice

Talking with family and friends at get-togethers, singing in the choir or with the radio, communicating on the phone, speaking with colleagues at work … Your voice is important for most aspects of your life. Unfortunately, this communication can’t take place for individuals with throat disorders.

When you can’t speak, or it’s difficult to speak, it can feel debilitating. That’s why it’s important to visit us so we can get to the bottom of it.

Laryngology

Laryngology is the study of the larynx (voice box). The larynx is responsible for breathing, swallowing, and your voice.

Common voice disorders

Voice disorders and larynx conditions include aging voice, reinke’s edema, scars and sulcus, vocal fold lesions, and vocal fold paralysis and paresis. 

Treatment

We offer a complete evaluation of voice and swallowing problems, including in- office awake endoscopic examination of the throat and voice box areas using the latest technology.

What Causes Hoarseness?

Hoarseness (also called dysphonia) is an abnormal change in the quality of your voice, making it sound raspy, strained, breathy, weak, higher or lower in pitch, inconsistent, or fatigued, often making it harder to talk.Hoarseness (also called dysphonia) is an abnormal change in the quality of your voice, making it sound raspy, strained, breathy, weak, higher or lower in pitch, inconsistent, or fatigued, often making it harder to talk.

This usually happens when there is a problem in the vocal cords (or folds) of your voice box (larynx) that produce sound. Your vocal cords are separated when you breathe, but when you make sound, they come together and vibrate as air leaves your lungs. Anything that alters the vibration or closure of the vocal cords results in hoarseness.

If you have any of these symptoms for hoarseness, you should see an ENT (ear, nose, and throat) specialist, or otolaryngologist, as soon as you can:

• Hoarseness that lasts more than four weeks, especially if you smoke
• Severe changes in voice lasting more than a few days
• Voice changes, such as raspy, strained, breathy, weak, higher or lower in pitch, inconsistent, fatigued, or shaky voice
• Difficult breathing
• Pain when speaking
• Vocal professionals (singer, teacher, public speaker) who cannot do their job

Contact us
Are you having trouble with your throat or voice? For throat disorders, contact us to set up an appointment today!

Are There Related Factors or Conditions?

Reflux—Reflux is when acidic or non-acidic stomach contents move from the stomach up into your swallowing tube (the esophagus). Classic heartburn and indigestion are symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux (GERD), which is caused by acid. If the stomach acid travels up the esophagus and spills into the throat or voice box (called the pharynx/larynx), it is known as laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR).

Smoking—Most importantly, smoking increases the risk of developing throat cancer. Smoking can also cause permanent changes to your vocal cords that can lead to swelling, which lowers the pitch of your voice and can block the airway in severe cases. Smokers who develop hoarseness should see an otolaryngologist right away.

Other—Other related factors such as allergies, thyroid problems, trauma to the voice box, and, occasionally, menstruation can contribute to hoarseness.

More Causes

Acute laryngitis—The most common cause of hoarseness is acute laryngitis. A cold, viral infection in your breathing tract, or voice strain can make your vocal cords swell. you can seriously damage your vocal cords if you talk while you have laryngitis.

Non-cancerous vocal cord lesions—Nodules, polyps, and cysts usually develop after prolonged trauma to the vocal cords from talking too much, too loudly, or with bad technique.

Pre-cancerous or cancerous lesions—Pre-cancer or cancerous lesions on the vocal cords can also cause hoarseness. If it lasts four weeks or more, or if you are at a higher risk of developing throat cancer (i.e., you smoke), you should have your voice box evaluated by an ENT specialist.

Neurological diseases or disorders—Hoarseness can occur with Parkinson’s disease or after a stroke. A rare disorder called spasmodic dysphonia can also create hoarseness or uneasy breathing. A paralyzed vocal cord, usually after surgery, viral illness, or injury, may also cause a weak, breathy voice.

Vocal cord atrophy—As we age, our vocal cords become thinner (decreased bulk) and floppy (decreased tone). This is not due to talking too much or too little, it’s just a fact of life. A raspy voice that changes from day to day with decreased power is common.

Vocal cord hemorrhage—You can lose your voice after yelling or other strenuous vocal activity if a blood vessel/blood blister breaks, filling the vocal cord with blood. This is a vocal emergency and should be treated with complete voice rest and examination by an otolaryngologist.

 

Contact us
Are you having trouble with your throat or voice? For throat disorders, contact us to set up an appointment today!

What Are the Treatment Options?

An ENT specialist needs to obtain your medical history and look at the voice box (larynx) with special equipment before they can determine what’s causing your hoarseness and recommend treatment options. They may pass a very small, lighted flexible tube with a camera (called a fiberoptic scope) through your nose to view your vocal cords. Most patients tolerate these procedures well. Sometimes, it helps to measure voice irregularities, how the voice sounds, airflow, and other characteristics to help decide how to treat your hoarseness.

Appropriate treatment depends on the cause of your hoarseness.

General vocal wellness tips include:

1. Avoid speaking in loud environments.
2. Be aware of how much and how loudly you are talking.
3. Use a microphone or other type of voice amplification if your job requires a lot of talking (like teaching or public speaking).
4. Drink plenty of water, usually around 60 ounces daily. This helps thin out mucus.
5. Avoid large amounts of caffeine, such as caffeinated coffee, tea, and soda.
6. Stop smoking and avoid secondhand smoke. This is a good idea for all smoked products.

 

Sore Throats

Sore throats happen to everyone now and then. When you have a sore throat, this can affect speaking, swallowing, or breathing.

Infections from viruses or bacteria are the main cause of sore throats, but allergies and sinus infections can also contribute. Some sore throats are worse than others. If you have a sore throat that lasts for more than five to ten days, you should see your doctor.

Whenever a sore throat is severe, lasts longer than the usual five- to ten-day duration of a cold or flu, and is not associated with an avoidable allergy or irritation, you should seek medical attention. The following signs and symptoms should alert you to see your physician:

• Severe and prolonged sore throat
• Difficulty breathing
• Difficulty swallowing
• Difficulty opening the mouth
• Swelling of the face or neck
• Joint pain
• Earache
• Rash
• Fever (over 101°F)
• Blood in saliva or phlegm
• Frequently recurring sore throat
• Lump in neck
• Hoarseness lasting over two weeks

 

What Causes a Sore Throat?

Infections by contagious viruses or bacteria are the source of most sore throats. Other potential causes include:

Viruses—Sore throats often accompany viral infections, including the flu, colds, measles, chicken pox, whooping cough, croup, or mononucleosis (“mono”). Mono has the longest duration of symptoms, such as sore throat and extreme fatigue, and can last several weeks. Other symptoms include swollen glands in the neck, armpits, and groin; fever, chills, headache, or sometimes, serious breathing difficulties.

Bacterial infection—Strep throat is an infection caused by streptococcus bacteria. This infection can also cause scarlet fever, tonsillitis, pneumonia, sinusitis, and ear infections. Symptoms of strep throat often include fever (greater than 101°F), white draining patches on the throat, and swollen or tender lymph glands in the neck. Children may have a headache and stomach pain.

Epiglottitis is the most dangerous throat infection, because it causes swelling that closes the airway and requires prompt emergency medical attention. Suspect it when swallowing is extremely painful (causing drooling), when speech is muffled, and when breathing becomes difficult. Epiglottitis is often not seen just by looking in the mouth.

Allergies—You may also be allergic to pollens, molds, animal dander, and/or house dust, for examples, which can lead to a sore throat.

Irritation—Dry heat, dehydration, chronic stuffy nose, pollutants, car exhaust, chemical exposure, or straining your voice are examples of irritations that can lead to a sore throat.

Reflux—Reflux occurs when you regurgitate stomach contents up into the throat. You may notice this often in the morning when you first wake up. Reflux that goes into the throat is called laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR).

Tumors—Tumors of the throat, tongue, and larynx (voice box) can cause a sore throat with pain going up to the ear. Other important symptoms can include hoarseness, difficulty swallowing, noisy breathing, a lump in the neck, unexplained weight loss, and/or spitting up blood in the saliva or phlegm.

 

What Are the Treatment Options?

 

A mild sore throat associated with cold or flu symptoms can be made more comfortable with the following remedies:

• Increase your liquid intake.
• Drink warm tea with honey (a favorite home remedy).
• Use a personal steamer or place a humidifier in your bedroom.
• Gargle with warm salt water several times daily: ¼ tsp salt to ½ cup water.
• Take over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen.

For a more severe sore throat, your doctor may want to do a throat culture—swabbing the inside of your throat to see if there is a bacterial infection. If it is negative, your physician will base their treatment recommendation on the severity of your symptoms and the appearance of your throat on examination.

If you have a bacterial infection your doctor will likely recommend an antibiotic (such as penicillin or erythromycin) that kills or impairs bacteria. Antibiotics do not cure viral infections, but viruses do lower the patient’s resistance to bacterial infections. When a combined infection like this happens, antibiotics may be recommended.

It is important to take an antibiotic as your physician directs and to finish all doses, even if your symptoms improve, otherwise the infection may not be gone and could return. Some patients will experience returning infections despite antibiotic treatment. If you experience this, it is important to discuss this situation with your physician.

Tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy

Tonsil and adenoid tissues are masses of immune cells, located at the back of your throat.
As a result of tonsil and adenoid tissue partially obstructing their airways, children can experience mouth breathing, snoring, and obstructive sleep apnea. This can lead to poor sleep quality, an open bite, and malocclusion (misalignment of teeth).

Tonsil and adenoid lymphoid tissues are initially important. Later, however, they can cause upper airway obstruction and tonsillitis. Removing the tonsils results in fewer of these issues, including:

• Bleeding tonsils
• Cancerous tissue in one or both tonsils
• Difficulty breathing
• Difficulty swallowing
• Disrupted breathing during sleep
• Recurrent bleeding from blood vessels near the surface of the tonsils
• Tonsillitis

Tonsil removal

Removal of the tonsils and adenoids (tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy) is a common outpatient procedure.

What Causes Hoarseness?

Acute laryngitis—The most common cause of hoarseness is acute laryngitis. A cold, viral infection in your breathing tract, or voice strain can make your vocal cords swell. you can seriously damage your vocal cords if you talk while you have laryngitis.

Non-cancerous vocal cord lesions—Nodules, polyps, and cysts usually develop after prolonged trauma to the vocal cords from talking too much, too loudly, or with bad technique.

Pre-cancerous or cancerous lesions—Pre-cancer or cancerous lesions on the vocal cords can also cause hoarseness. If it lasts four weeks or more, or if you are at a higher risk of developing throat cancer (i.e., you smoke), you should have your voice box evaluated by an ENT specialist.

Neurological diseases or disorders—Hoarseness can occur with Parkinson’s disease or after a stroke. A rare disorder called spasmodic dysphonia can also create hoarseness or uneasy breathing. A paralyzed vocal cord, usually after surgery, viral illness, or injury, may also cause a weak, breathy voice.

Vocal cord atrophy—As we age, our vocal cords become thinner (decreased bulk) and floppy (decreased tone). This is not due to talking too much or too little, it’s just a fact of life. A raspy voice that changes from day to day with decreased power is common.

Vocal cord hemorrhage—You can lose your voice after yelling or other strenuous vocal activity if a blood vessel/blood blister breaks, filling the vocal cord with blood. This is a vocal emergency and should be treated with complete voice rest and examination by an otolaryngologist.

Are There Related Factors or Conditions?

Reflux—Reflux is when acidic or non-acidic stomach contents move from the stomach up into your swallowing tube (the esophagus). Classic heartburn and indigestion are symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux (GERD), which is caused by acid. If the stomach acid travels up the esophagus and spills into the throat or voice box (called the pharynx/larynx), it is known as laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR).

Smoking—Most importantly, smoking increases the risk of developing throat cancer. Smoking can also cause permanent changes to your vocal cords that can lead to swelling, which lowers the pitch of your voice and can block the airway in severe cases. Smokers who develop hoarseness should see an otolaryngologist right away.

Other—Other related factors such as allergies, thyroid problems, trauma to the voice box, and, occasionally, menstruation can contribute to hoarseness.

 

Contact us
Are you having trouble with your throat or voice? For throat disorders, contact us to set up an appointment today!

More Causes

Acute laryngitis—The most common cause of hoarseness is acute laryngitis. A cold, viral infection in your breathing tract, or voice strain can make your vocal cords swell. you can seriously damage your vocal cords if you talk while you have laryngitis.

Non-cancerous vocal cord lesions—Nodules, polyps, and cysts usually develop after prolonged trauma to the vocal cords from talking too much, too loudly, or with bad technique.

Pre-cancerous or cancerous lesions—Pre-cancer or cancerous lesions on the vocal cords can also cause hoarseness. If it lasts four weeks or more, or if you are at a higher risk of developing throat cancer (i.e., you smoke), you should have your voice box evaluated by an ENT specialist.

Neurological diseases or disorders—Hoarseness can occur with Parkinson’s disease or after a stroke. A rare disorder called spasmodic dysphonia can also create hoarseness or uneasy breathing. A paralyzed vocal cord, usually after surgery, viral illness, or injury, may also cause a weak, breathy voice.

Vocal cord atrophy—As we age, our vocal cords become thinner (decreased bulk) and floppy (decreased tone). This is not due to talking too much or too little, it’s just a fact of life. A raspy voice that changes from day to day with decreased power is common.

Vocal cord hemorrhage—You can lose your voice after yelling or other strenuous vocal activity if a blood vessel/blood blister breaks, filling the vocal cord with blood. This is a vocal emergency and should be treated with complete voice rest and examination by an otolaryngologist.

 

Contact us
Are you having trouble with your throat or voice? For throat disorders, contact us to set up an appointment today!

What Are the Treatment Options?

An ENT specialist needs to obtain your medical history and look at the voice box (larynx) with special equipment before they can determine what’s causing your hoarseness and recommend treatment options. They may pass a very small, lighted flexible tube with a camera (called a fiberoptic scope) through your nose to view your vocal cords. Most patients tolerate these procedures well. Sometimes, it helps to measure voice irregularities, how the voice sounds, airflow, and other characteristics to help decide how to treat your hoarseness.

Appropriate treatment depends on the cause of your hoarseness.

General vocal wellness tips include:

1. Avoid speaking in loud environments.
2. Be aware of how much and how loudly you are talking.
3. Use a microphone or other type of voice amplification if your job requires a lot of talking (like teaching or public speaking).
4. Drink plenty of water, usually around 60 ounces daily. This helps thin out mucus.
5. Avoid large amounts of caffeine, such as caffeinated coffee, tea, and soda.
6. Stop smoking and avoid secondhand smoke. This is a good idea for all smoked products.

 

Sore Throats

Sore throats happen to everyone now and then. When you have a sore throat, this can affect speaking, swallowing, or breathing.

Infections from viruses or bacteria are the main cause of sore throats, but allergies and sinus infections can also contribute. Some sore throats are worse than others. If you have a sore throat that lasts for more than five to ten days, you should see your doctor.

Whenever a sore throat is severe, lasts longer than the usual five- to ten-day duration of a cold or flu, and is not associated with an avoidable allergy or irritation, you should seek medical attention. The following signs and symptoms should alert you to see your physician:

• Severe and prolonged sore throat
• Difficulty breathing
• Difficulty swallowing
• Difficulty opening the mouth
• Swelling of the face or neck
• Joint pain
• Earache
• Rash
• Fever (over 101°F)
• Blood in saliva or phlegm
• Frequently recurring sore throat
• Lump in neck
• Hoarseness lasting over two weeks

 

What Causes a Sore Throat?

Infections by contagious viruses or bacteria are the source of most sore throats. Other potential causes include:

Viruses—Sore throats often accompany viral infections, including the flu, colds, measles, chicken pox, whooping cough, croup, or mononucleosis (“mono”). Mono has the longest duration of symptoms, such as sore throat and extreme fatigue, and can last several weeks. Other symptoms include swollen glands in the neck, armpits, and groin; fever, chills, headache, or sometimes, serious breathing difficulties.

Bacterial infection—Strep throat is an infection caused by streptococcus bacteria. This infection can also cause scarlet fever, tonsillitis, pneumonia, sinusitis, and ear infections. Symptoms of strep throat often include fever (greater than 101°F), white draining patches on the throat, and swollen or tender lymph glands in the neck. Children may have a headache and stomach pain.

Epiglottitis is the most dangerous throat infection, because it causes swelling that closes the airway and requires prompt emergency medical attention. Suspect it when swallowing is extremely painful (causing drooling), when speech is muffled, and when breathing becomes difficult. Epiglottitis is often not seen just by looking in the mouth.

Allergies—You may also be allergic to pollens, molds, animal dander, and/or house dust, for examples, which can lead to a sore throat.

Irritation—Dry heat, dehydration, chronic stuffy nose, pollutants, car exhaust, chemical exposure, or straining your voice are examples of irritations that can lead to a sore throat.

Reflux—Reflux occurs when you regurgitate stomach contents up into the throat. You may notice this often in the morning when you first wake up. Reflux that goes into the throat is called laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR).

Tumors—Tumors of the throat, tongue, and larynx (voice box) can cause a sore throat with pain going up to the ear. Other important symptoms can include hoarseness, difficulty swallowing, noisy breathing, a lump in the neck, unexplained weight loss, and/or spitting up blood in the saliva or phlegm.

 

What Are the Treatment Options?

 

A mild sore throat associated with cold or flu symptoms can be made more comfortable with the following remedies:

• Increase your liquid intake.
• Drink warm tea with honey (a favorite home remedy).
• Use a personal steamer or place a humidifier in your bedroom.
• Gargle with warm salt water several times daily: ¼ tsp salt to ½ cup water.
• Take over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen.

For a more severe sore throat, your doctor may want to do a throat culture—swabbing the inside of your throat to see if there is a bacterial infection. If it is negative, your physician will base their treatment recommendation on the severity of your symptoms and the appearance of your throat on examination.

If you have a bacterial infection your doctor will likely recommend an antibiotic (such as penicillin or erythromycin) that kills or impairs bacteria. Antibiotics do not cure viral infections, but viruses do lower the patient’s resistance to bacterial infections. When a combined infection like this happens, antibiotics may be recommended.

It is important to take an antibiotic as your physician directs and to finish all doses, even if your symptoms improve, otherwise the infection may not be gone and could return. Some patients will experience returning infections despite antibiotic treatment. If you experience this, it is important to discuss this situation with your physician.

Tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy

Tonsil and adenoid tissues are masses of immune cells, located at the back of your throat.
As a result of tonsil and adenoid tissue partially obstructing their airways, children can experience mouth breathing, snoring, and obstructive sleep apnea. This can lead to poor sleep quality, an open bite, and malocclusion (misalignment of teeth).

Tonsil and adenoid lymphoid tissues are initially important. Later, however, they can cause upper airway obstruction and tonsillitis. Removing the tonsils results in fewer of these issues, including:

• Bleeding tonsils
• Cancerous tissue in one or both tonsils
• Difficulty breathing
• Difficulty swallowing
• Disrupted breathing during sleep
• Recurrent bleeding from blood vessels near the surface of the tonsils
• Tonsillitis

Tonsil removal

Removal of the tonsils and adenoids (tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy) is a common outpatient procedure.

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Saginaw - Main Office

2551 McLeod Drive South
Saginaw, MI 48604
Phone: (989) 799-8620
Fax: (989) 799-2664

Pigeon Office

Scheurer Prof. Building
135 N. Caseville Rd.
Pigeon, MI 48755
Phone: (989) 453-5226
Fax: (989) 453-8819

Tawas Office

St. Joseph Specialty Clinic
295 Maple St. Suite 201
PO Box 659
Tawas City, MI 48764
Phone: (989) 362-0188
Fax: (989) 362-7171

Cass City Office

4675 Hill Street
Cass City, MI 48726
Phone: (989) 912-6112
Fax: (989) 453-3819

Marlette Office

Marlette Regional Hospital
2750 Main Street, Suites 7 & 8
Marlette, MI 48453
Phone: (989) 635-4344‬‬‬
Fax: (877) 455-9031

Sandusky Office

McKenzie Health Plaza
115 Delaware Street
Sandusky, MI 48471
Phone: (810) 648-6115
Fax: (810) 648-2334‬