Dr. Austin specializes in a variety of throat disorders ranging from sore throats to dysphagia. As an Brownsville & Harlingen ENT doctor, Dr. Austin is skilled in treating an array of throat problems. His years of experience lead to expert care and treatment of throat problems.
Throat problems occur in a range of severity from uncomfortable issues, such as hoarseness, to serious illnesses like throat cancer. Other throat problems are recurrent sore throats, vocal nodules and tumors of the voice box. Some of the most common throat problems for which Dr. Austin sees patients include:
- Dysphagia (swallowing problems)
- Vocal nodules
- Recurrent sore throats
- Throat cancer
- Laryngeal tumors
- Tonsillectomy and Adenoidectomy
Hoarseness, Sore Throats and Vocal Nodules
The American Academy of Otolaryngology defines hoarseness as “Abnormal changes in the voice.” These changesin voice are related to disorders in the vocal folds of the larynx. The most common cause of hoarseness are acute laryngitis. Some of the other possible causes of hoarseness include smoking, vocal cord hemorrhage, allergies and gastroesophageal reflux (GERD). In some cases of vocal hoarseness may be caused by neurological diseases such as Parkinsons disease or strokes. Prolonged hoarseness should be examined by a doctor to avoid possible serious and lasting damage.
According to the Mayo Clinic, a sore throat is “pain, scratchiness or irritation of the throat that often worsens when you swallow.” Most commonly, sore throats are caused by a viral infection and will resolve when the infection runs its course within a few weeks. If a sore throat lasts more than a week or if you are experiencing other symptoms such as difficulty breathing, fever, or infected appearing sputum, it is important to seek attention.
Vocal cord nodules are benign growths on the vocal cords due to vocal strain. If not treated, the nodules grow larger in size and become stiffer. Vocal nodules may cause hoarseness, neck pain and a decrease in pitch range. Some causes of vocal nodules include smoking, singing, speaking too loudly, drinking excessive amounts of caffeine or alcohol and allergies.
Tonsillectomy and Adenoidectomy
The American Academy of Otolaryngology states that “tonsils and adenoid are often removed when they become enlarged and block the upper airway, leading to difficulty breathing.” Additional reasons for tonsils and adenoid to be removed include recurring strep throat or tonsil infections that are not cured by taking antibiotics. Typically, tonsillectomies and adenoidectomies are performed on children, however, there are occasions where these surgeries are performed on young adults.
Dsyphagia, more commonly known as swallowing problems, occurs in all stages of life. It is particularly prominent among the elderly. Difficulty swallowing is simply having trouble passing food from the mouth to the stomach. The American Academy of Otolaryngology notes that there are four stages related to difficulty swallowing: the oral preparation stage, the oral stage, the pharyngeal stage and the esophageal phase. Dsyphagia can represent a serious anatomic or neurophysiologic problem and should be evaluated by an ENT physician if it last for more than a month. Dysphagia can be a symptom of a serious medical problem.
Voice Box Tumors and Throat Cancer
Voice box (larynx) tumors may be a complication of a cancerous growth in the larynx. While laryngeal cancer is not common it needs to be diagnosed early to allow rapid treatment than can spare normal speech and swallowing.
Throat cancer, or pharyngeal cancer, is another lesser known cancer that is rare in the general population. According to the American Academy of Otolaryngology, 90% of head and neck cancers are caused by exposure to carcinogens, or cancer causing agents. The most commonly cited carcinogen that causes head and neck cancers is smoking. Alcohol is another substance that increases the risk of developing laryngeal (voice box) tumors or throat cancers.
While not all throat problems are severe, they should still be checked by a professional. If you are experiencing any of these throat problems please schedule an appointment to see Dr. Austin at one of his two convenient locations in Brownsville and Harlingen.