The value of videostroboscopy is enhanced when the technology is utilized with the combined expertise of an otolaryngologist (ENT) physician and a speech language pathologist (S.L.P.). This technology allows a precise and accurate assesment of any lesions in the area of the mouth, base of tongue, throat or larynx (voice box), and entrance of the esophagus (swallowing tube). A likely diagnosis and medical or surgical treatment options can then be given to the patient who is able to see the lesion or pathology that requires the treatment recommended.
In prior years, a patient with complaints in these areas, whether a lesion was present or not,  would frequently require examination in the operating room under general anesthesia to allow a complete examination. Now, however, that is done only AFTER an abnormal or suspicious lesion is found on the in - office videostroboscopy exam, performed painlessly under topical anesthesia with the patient awake.

Description of the types of voice related problems commonly seen in our office, with a brief definition of each, and some common treatment advice is presented below.

Acute laryngitis
The most common type of hoarseness that starts suddenly. Usually acute laryngitis is caused by a viral infection that leads to swelling of the vocal cords. Swollen vocal cords vibrate differently than normal cords which produces hoarseness. Treatment for acute viral laryngitis is hydration and voice rest and is usually successful.
Bacterial acute laryngitis is more serious and can cause dangerous airway obstruction if severe. Any problems that compromise breathing during an episode of acute laryngitis warrants emergency evaluation.

Chronic Laryngitis 
A non- specific term with numerous possible causes. Acid reflux, exposure to irritating substances like smoke, and low grade infections such as yeast infections of the vocal cords from asthma inhaler use, patients with compromised immune systems due to cancer chemotherapy or radiation treatment, and other immunodeficiency diseases.  

Laryngopharyngeal Reflux Disease (LPRD) 
Caused by reflux of stomach digestive juices upwards into the throat that produces many different symptoms not typical of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERDS). Chronic or intermittent hoarseness, globus (a lump in the throat sensation), chronic cough, throat clearing, or throat pain; but without the typical heartburn or regurgitation symptoms seen with GERDS.

Voice Overuse and Misuse 
Just like any other physical task, there are many different muscle groups and coordinated breathing actions that produce a normal voice. Inefficient ways of speaking, excessive tension in neck and laryngeal muscles, and poor breathing habits during speech lead to vocal difficulties. This leads to vocal fatigue, increased vocal effort, and hoarseness. Continued vocal overuse and misuse increases the risk of developing vocal cord hemorrhage and vocal cord lesions. These lesions are described in more detail in the throat and cancer patient education sections of our website.

      Common situations associated with vocal misuse:

  •   Speaking in noisy situations or backgrounds
  •   Excessive cellular phone use
  •   Using improper pitch (too high or too low) when speaking
  •   Not using amplification when publicly speaking

 

Keeping your voice healthy
There are several common sense habits to adopt for maintaining a healthy voice.

1. Drink plenty of water. Moisture is critical fo a good voice. Drink (up to eight 8 - ounce glasses minimum) of non-caffeinated, non - alcoholic beverages throughout the day.

2. Try not to scream or yell. These are abusive habits and put great strain on the mucus membrane lining of the vocal cords.

3.  Warm up your voice before heavy use. Like professional singers, most professional speakers perform pre-speaking vocal exercises before giving a class, preaching, or giving a speech.

4.  Don't smoke! In addition to being an important risk for laryngeal cancer, smoking also causes inflammation and polyp formation on the vocal cords. These conditions then cause a husky, raspy, and weak voice.

5.  Use good breath control. Breath flow is the power for voice. Take time to fill your lungs before starting to talk, and don't wait until your out of breath to take another deep breath to power your voice.

6.  Use a microphone when giving a speech or presentation to reduce strain on your voice.

7.  Listen to your voice. When your voice is complaining to you - listen to it !! Reduce or modify your pitch and volume when first noticing a change in your voice. Hydrate yourself and rest your voice to allow it to recover. Pushing thru it may cause significant vocal problems later. See an ENT physician like Dr. Sciacca who works conjointly with a speech language pathologist (S.L.P.) for a complete Videostroboscopic diagnostic exam and treatment plan. 

4501 Southlake Pkwy
Suite #200
Hoover, AL 35244