Your voice is one of your most powerful tools, so when it’s not functioning properly, it can have a tremendous impact on your career, relationships with others and quality of life.
No matter what type of voice and swallowing disorder you’re experiencing, experts at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus, Ohio, have specialized training to identify what’s causing your issues, and often, we’re able to restore voice, airway and swallowing functions completely.
Where your only treatment option elsewhere may be surgery, we offer various safe and effective alternatives. Our speech language pathologists, many of whom are classically trained singers, work closely with doctors and surgeons to minimize the need for surgery.
As the only hospital in the area with a dedicated Voice Center, we’re a destination for nationally known performing artists suffering from vocal impairment. However, we also treat people who are coughing more than usual or those with chronic sore throats. Our voice and swallowing experts, including five fellowship-trained laryngologists, recognize how important solving these problems is.
What are voice and swallowing disorders?
Speaking, eating and breathing are all very important functions that you do daily without even thinking. They also all occur in the throat and surrounding areas. You can have a disorder that affects only one of these functions, or you can have one that impacts all three.
We treat everything from the simplest of issues, such as reflux, to more complicated cases, including voice impairments of professional singers and even cancers that can develop in these areas. Here’s a sampling of some of the different voice and swallowing conditions we treat regularly.
Voice and swallowing disorders and conditions we treat
Voice disorders and vocal cord problems
Also referred to as dysphonia, this group of conditions causes poor voice quality and other issues with your larynx (voice box). Voice disorders include:
- Hoarseness or difficulty projecting
- Laryngopharyngeal reflux
- Spasmodic dysphonia
- Vocal cord lesions or paralysis
- Laryngeal cancer
- Vocal cord paralysis
Conditions that can cause difficulty swallowing (Dysphagia) and throat discomfort
Also called dysphagia, this group of conditions makes it difficult to swallow certain foods or drinks or to swallow at all. They also cause throat discomfort. Swallowing disorders include:
- Throat tumors or cancer
- Reflux diseases (gastrointestinal and laryngopharyngeal)
- Spasms of esophagus muscles
- Narrow areas in the esophagus
- Aspiration (breathing in food or liquid while trying to eat)
- Neurological disorders, like ALS or Parkinson’s disease
Conditions that can cause difficulty breathing (Dyspnea)
Also referred to as dyspnea, shortness of breath is caused by a variety of conditions. In the ear, nose and throat (ENT) department we focus on these causes:
- Airway narrowing or “stenosis”
- Injury or scarring in the throat area
- Vocal cords that won’t open
- VCD or “vocal cord dysfunction” — this mimics asthma and is also called “paradoxical vocal cord motion disorder”
- Tracheal problems
Why should I choose Ohio State for voice and swallowing care?
The Ohio State University Wexner Medical provides voice and swallowing care that is nationally recognized and unrivaled in the region. We treat a diverse group of people with a variety of different diseases.
Distinctions that make care at Ohio State different include:
- We’re the largest dedicated Voice Center in the Midwest – As a destination for those with voice and swallowing disorders, we have five fellowship-trained laryngologists when most hospital systems are fortunate enough to have one.
- We implement a team-based approach – Not only do our voice and swallowing doctors work closely with speech therapists, but you’ll be able to access care from our entire nationally ranked ENT department. If your issue turns out to be cancer, we can refer you to The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James) for world-class oncology care.
- We use surgery as a last resort – For example, we provide an in-office injection procedure that has enabled patients with vocal cord paralysis avoid more invasive surgery.
- We have multiple locations to serve you – From offices in Martha Morehouse Tower to ambulatory locations in Westerville and Dublin, we have five places for you to go for voice and swallowing care. Each site is equipped to offer voice analysis, comprehensive head and neck exams, endoscopies and other procedures all in one place on the same day.
- We’re participants in national, multi-institutional research studies – Our team is on the forefront of new and innovative treatments, participating in these clinical trials and developing exciting advancements in the field.