Provider and patient throat examAt the only voice and swallowing clinic in the Columbus area, our throat specialists treat everyone from professional singers to those who are simply coughing too much. 

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, the throat specialists at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus, Ohio, are here to help. Our throat doctors 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 throat 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 experts of laryngology ("study of the voice"), include five fellowship-trained laryngologists, recognize how important solving these problems.

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.

Our throat specialists address 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:

Learn more about voice disorders

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

Learn more about swallowing disorders

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, our throat specialists 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

Learn more about dyspnea

Providers in conversation at computerWhy 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. Our throat doctors 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 laryngology 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 nationally recognized team of throat doctors and surgeons are on the forefront of new and innovative treatments, participating in these clinical trials and developing exciting advancements in the field.
Our Providers

Our Speech Language Pathologists - Voice and Swallowing

Heath Barron, CCC-SLP

Heath Barron, MA, CCC-SLP

Speech Language Pathologist

Heath Barron, MA, CCC-SLP, is a speech language pathologist in the Ohio State Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. With an undergraduate degree in vocal music education, Heath spent years working with young singers as a middle/high school choir teacher before returning to The Ohio State University to obtain a Master of Arts in Speech Language Pathology. He currently works as a singing health specialist in the department and treats a variety of swallowing, breathing and voice disorders. 
Lichtenstein Anna

Anna Lichtenstein, MA, CCC-SLP

Speech Language Pathologist

Anna Lichtenstein, MA, CCC-SLP (she/her) is a speech language pathologist in the Ohio State Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. She earned her Master of Arts in Speech Language Pathology from The University of Toledo in 2015 and received her Bachelor of Science in Speech Language Pathology and Audiology from Miami University in 2013. Anna has been working in the outpatient clinical setting since 2015 and primarily provides gender-affirming voice modification services for the transgender and gender-diverse community. This service helps transgender and gender-diverse individuals find a healthy voice that is more congruent with their gender-identity. Anna received recognition for her dedication to this specialty area in 2020, when she was honored with the Diversity in Business Award through Columbus Business First. 
Thompson Jennifer 724x840

Jennifer Thompson, MA, CCC-SLP

Speech Language Pathologist

Jennifer Thompson, MA, CCC-SLP, is a speech language pathologist specialized in voice, swallowing, cough and laryngeal breathing disorders. Jennifer has been with the Division of Voice & Swallowing Disorders within the Department of Otolaryngology for 18 years. She received her Bachelor of Communication Sciences and Disorders at Northern Michigan University and her Masters of Arts from The Ohio State University. Jennifer is passionate about working with all disorders of the larynx. Her primary focus is treatment of chronic cough and other laryngeal airway disorders.
Toth Michelle 724x840

Michelle Toth, MA, CCC-SLP

Speech Language Pathologist

Michelle Toth, MA, CCC-SLP, is a speech language pathologist specialized in singing health who has worked with the Division of Voice and Swallowing Disorders for more than 12 years. She received her Bachelor of Music from Wright State University and her Masters of Speech and Hearing Science from The Ohio State University. She enjoys working with all voice and swallowing disordered patients; however, singers remain her passion. She continues to sing within the community and perform professionally as possible.

Subscribe. Get just the right amount of health and wellness in your inbox.