Voice and Swallowing Disorders

Man and woman with voice disorders

Most people do not realize how important their voice is until they lose it. Voice disorders can range from mild nuisances to debilitating issues. If you have a voice disorder that lasts for longer than 3-4 weeks, you should consult a medical professional.

Evaluating Vocal Disorders

A vocal evaluation involves working up a thorough history of the voice disorder. This includes a head and neck exam as well as placing a small scope through the nose into the back of the throat (this procedure is called a flexible laryngoscopy). A physician may also perform a videostroboscopy, which synchs a strobe light to the frequency of the vocal folds and can provide greater information about vocal function. Southwest Idaho ENT offers both of these services.

Treatment of Voice Disorders

Once we understand the cause of the vocal disorder, we work with you to establish a treatment plan. Lifestyle modifications or medical therapy can treat some disorders. In many cases, patients undergo therapy to improve their voice. Although Southwest Idaho ENT does not employ Speech and Language Pathologists, we have a close working relationship with several voice specialists. Speech pathologists or voice coaches are always welcome to accompany patients to their in-office evaluation as well.

Other patients may require further interventions. Benign cysts and lesions may need excision. Our surgeons can remove benign cysts and lesions through surgery. Some patients—especially those with vocal fold paralysis or aging voices—may also need vocal augmentation with either injections or implants.

Currently, SWIENT is the only provider of EMG-guided laryngeal Botox injections for spasmodic dysphonia. Before we instituted this program in 2009, Idaho patients with SD had to travel out of state to receive this therapy.

Swallowing Disorders

SWIENT can effectively manage swallowing disorders as well. As with voice disorders, they range in severity from mild to crippling. Evaluation begins in the office with a thorough history and exam, often including a flexible laryngoscopy. Further swallow studies may be required, including the following:

  • Barium esophagram
  • Videofluoroscopic swallowing study (VFSS)
  • Fiberoptic endoscopic evaluation of swallowing (FEES)

Recently, we have begun working in conjunction with contracted Speech and Language Pathologists (SLPs) to provide FEES in our office.

Once we get a full diagnosis, SWIENT will go through the various therapy options with you. These range from medical therapy and swallow therapy to surgical intervention. Occasionally, we will need to coordinate care with gastroenterologists and SLPs.

To learn more about treatment for voice and swallowing disorders, contact us.