What to Do When You Can’t Hit the High Notes

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Hudson Valley ENT honors World Voice Day with a call to action

The symptoms of voice troubles can begin slowly at first, maybe as frequent throat clearing, a persistent cough, or slight hoarseness. But when they persist and cannot be explained by common causes such as an upper respiratory infection, allergies, postnasal drip or overuse, they may be the sign of an underlying health issue. In honor of World Voice Day, which took place on April 16, Hudson Valley Ear, Nose & Throat (HVENT), P.C., reminds people to take care of voice problems by seeing a doctor or voice specialist.

“It is not well known that many voice issues are related to mechanical and physiologic factors such as breathing problems or muscle weakness,” explains Phillip L. Massengill, M.D., FACS, an otolaryngologist and head and neck surgeon at HVENT and a classically trained opera singer. “In many cases, this type of voice production issue can be diagnosed and corrected by a voice specialist through exercises that strengthen the muscles and lead to improved voice quality and endurance.”

Dr. Massengill points out that voice problems also can have more serious causes, including asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and gastroesophageal reflux. Gastroesophageal reflex, also known as GERD, results when stomach acid escapes through the sphincter at the top of the stomach into the esophagus and larynx and causes damage. Obesity, alcohol consumption, high fat foods, big meals and acidic foods increase the chances of developing GERD.    

Dr. Massengill recommends being examined by a doctor who has gone through special training and courses in diagnostic voice disorders. HVENT uses state-of-the-art video stroboscopy, a specialized procedure that evaluates vocal cord vibrations for abnormalities and helps determine whether surgery is needed. Treatments for voice disorders range from therapy with a speech pathologist to steroids for inflammatory voice disorders to surgery, depending on the diagnosis.

“Be sure to have your voice checked out if you have voice changes that persist for more than two or three weeks, a sore throat that lasts for more than three or four weeks, or a voice issue combined with either difficulty swallowing, a new neck mass or a history of smoking,” advises Dr. Massengill. “We encourage patients to take note of these symptoms as they could be signs of something more serious.”

Hudson Valley Ear, Nose & Throat, P.C. is located at 75 Crystal Run Road, Building B, Suite 220, Middletown, NY. For more information, please call 888.350.1368 (ENT) or visit http://www.hudsonvalleyent.com.

About Hudson Valley Ear, Nose & Throat
Hudson Valley Ear, Nose & Throat, P.C., has been redefining the healthcare experience in the Hudson Valley for more than ten years. Its board-certified physicians, supported by licensed audiologists and dedicated staff, have established a reputation for superior care in treating patients with allergies, gastroesophageal reflux, thyroid and parathyroid disorders, hearing and balance disorders, nasal and sinus disease, head and neck cancer, sleep apnea, snoring, voice disorders, and pediatric ear and throat disorders. Hudson Valley Ear, Nose & Throat utilizes state-of-the-art technology to make the patient experience as efficient, comfortable, and caring as possible.

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Kimberly Sawicki
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