Voice and Swallowing Disorders Result from a Variety of Causes and May Require Advanced Care


Voice and swallowing disorders may be caused by cancers and tumors, gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD), polyps, and nodules, and can be treated with non-surgical or surgical procedures. At Chesapeake ENT, our doctors are experienced in treating the underlying causes of voice and swallowing disorders for patients in the Baltimore, MD, area.

Voice and swallowing disorders vary based upon age, occupation, and overall health. People whose jobs require a heavy amount of speaking, such as teachers, frequently suffer from voice disorders. Vocal disorders may result in an abnormal or absent voice, changes in vocal pitch, and more.

Swallowing disorders restrict the movement of food or liquid between the mouth and stomach. If you have experienced any abrupt changes in your voice or your ability to swallow, contact our office today to schedule an appointment.

Common Causes of Voice and Swallowing Disorders

There are numerous potential causes of voice disorders, which may result in changes to your voice. You may notice your voice sounds softer or more breathy, or it may sound deeper and more gravelly. Some causes of voice disorders include:

Image of vocal fold paralysis

  • Cancer, or benign or malignant tumors
  • Masses on the vocal chords such as cysts, polyps, or nodules
  • Laryngitis, or an inflammation of the vocal chords due to overuse
  • Acid reflux, smoking, or a virus
  • GERD, which can lead to hoarseness and wheezing
  • Weakened vocal chords and muscles due to age
  • A hemorrhage of the vocal chords due to overuse or trauma
  • Paralysis of vocal chord muscles due to nerve damage

Swallowing disorders, or dysphagia, have similar causes to voice disorders, but different symptoms. Causes of swallowing disorders may include:

  • A narrowing of the esophagus due to an infection, GERD, tumors, or scarring
  • A compression of the esophagus caused by an enlarged thyroid (goiter) or a tumor
  • A dysfunction of the esophageal muscles due to an autoimmune or nerve disorder
  • Damage to the brain or nerves caused by ALS or a stroke
  • Zenker’s Diverticulum, caused by a protrusion of weakened areas of the esophagus, resulting in regurgitation and trouble swallowing

Diagnosis and Treatment of Voice and Swallowing Disorders

The diagnosis and treatment of both voice and swallowing disorders requires the coordination of several medical professionals to treat both the symptoms and any underlying causes. To diagnose a voice disorder, your doctor will thoroughly review your medical history and discuss your symptoms with you to discover any potential causes.

Our expert practitioners possess the experience necessary to successfully help you find relief.

A general ENT exam will be performed, and your doctor may listen to your speaking or singing voice. Your larynx will also be examined and other technology may be used to view any potential defects. Voice disorders are commonly treated by resting the voice when possible, and treating underlying conditions such as GERD. Surgery is typically not required except in the removal of tumors.

To diagnose a swallowing disorder, your doctor will review your medical history and discuss your onset of symptoms, sensations you are experiencing, and medications you are currently taking. Swallowing disorders are commonly diagnosed through a video swallow study or a fiberoptic endoscopic evaluation, to view the esophagus as you swallow.

Swallowing disorders are typically treated by addressing underlying conditions such as an infection or GERD. Some patients may receive therapy to strengthen the oral and throat muscles. Surgery may be required to treat conditions including Zenker’s Diverticulum, or to remove any tumors.

Schedule Your Appointment

Voice and swallowing disorders are complex conditions that require advanced care from a coordinating team of specialists who will use state-of-the-art technology for diagnosis and treatment. If you have experienced any abrupt changes to your voice or have difficulty swallowing, contact our office today to schedule an appointment. Our expert practitioners possess the experience necessary to successfully help you find relief.