Throat & Neck FAQs


 

My voice is hoarse. Why?

A hoarse voice is usually due to irritation of the larynx.  Common causes of irritation are coughing due to a respiratory infection; Gastrointestinal Reflux Disease (GERD) which exposes the larynx to stomach acid; and mucus draining from the nasal cavities. More serious causes of hoarseness or a change in the voice include thyroid or vocal cord problems, or tumors of the larynx. If hoarseness lasts more than four-to-six weeks, a doctor should be consulted.

What is laryngitis?

Laryngitis is an inflammation of the vocal cords that can be caused by overuse, irritation, excessive coughing, smoking, alcohol consumption, or infection from a virus, bacteria or fungus.   In addition to hoarseness, symptoms of laryngitis can include dry, sore throat, coughing, difficulty swallowing, fever, swollen lymph glands, and cold/flu like symptoms.

How is laryngitis treated?

Treatment of laryngitis differs depending on the cause, but is sometimes treated with antibiotics or other medication. It is also helpful to drink plenty of water, avoid alcohol, caffeine and other substances that can dehydrate the body, use a home humidifier, and avoid smoking.

What is tonsillitis?

Tonsillitis is an infection of the tonsils caused by a viral or bacterial infection. Symptoms can include a severe sore throat, difficulty swallowing, headache, fever and chills. The tonsils themselves may appear red and swollen and can have white patches on them. Treatment can include pain management medications or antibiotics if the infection is bacterial. Gargling with a solution of warm water and salt can help relieve pain and reduce swelling.

What are adenoids?

The adenoids are a mass of lymphoid tissue located in the roof of the mouth, behind the soft palate where the nose connects to the throat. As part of the immune system, the adenoids produce white blood cells that help fight infections. Frequent throat infections can cause the adenoids to become enlarged, blocking airflow so that breathing through the nose becomes more difficult. They can also cause ear infections, snoring, sleep apnea, and hearing or speech problems.

Would my child benefit from a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy?

As a general guideline, a tonsillectomy is recommended in patients with seven or more tonsil infections in one year, five infections a year for two years, or three infections for three or more years. Many doctors recommend removing the adenoids at the same time that a tonsillectomy is performed. Removal of the tonsils and adenoids is also recommended for patients experiencing snoring with associated sleep apnea.