Diseases and disorders of the ears, nose, throat, head, and neck negatively impact the lives of millions around the world. Our health information, created by our member physicians, provides a basic overview of diagnoses and treatment for many of these conditions.  
Maladies of the throat can be a mere nuisance or a major ordeal. Tonsillitis, voice disorders, and even hoarseness all interfere with our ability to communicate. Many of these conditions can be improved or corrected with the care of an ENT physician or head and neck surgeon.
01.  What is Tonsils and Adenoids?
02.  Do you have trouble Swallowing? Insight into Dysphagia.
03.  What causes swallowing disorders?
04.  Gastroesophageal Reflux/Laryngopharyngeal Reflux (LPR)
05.  Tips for Reducing Reflux and Laryngopharyngeal Reflux
06.  What is Hoarseness?
07.  What are the causes?
08.  When should I see an Otolaryngologist?
  What can I do to prevent and treat mild hoarseness?


01.  What is Tonsils and Adenoids?

Tonsils and adenoids are masses of tissue that are similar to the lymph nodes or "glands" found in the neck, groin, and armpits. Tonsils are the two masses on the back of the throat. Adenoids are high in the throat behind the nose and the roof of the mouth (soft palate) and are not visible through the mouth without special instruments.

Tonsils and adenoids are near the entrance to the breathing passages where they can catch incoming germs, which cause infections. They "sample" bacteria and viruses and can become infected themselves. Scientists believe they work as part of the body's immune system by filtering germs that attempt to invade the body, and that they help to develop antibodies to germs.

This happens primarily during the first few years of life, becoming less important as we get older. Children who must have their tonsils and adenoids removed suffer no loss in their resistance.

Tonsillitis and its symptoms

Tonsillitis is an infection in one or both tonsils. One sign is swelling of the tonsils. Other signs or symptoms are:

Redder than normal tonsils
A white or yellow coating on the tonsils
A slight voice change due to swelling
Sore throat
Uncomfortable or painful swallowing
Swollen lymph nodes (glands) in the neck
Bad breath

Enlarged adenoids and their symptoms

If you or your child's adenoids are enlarged, it may be hard to breathe through the nose. Other signs of constant enlargement are:



Breathing through the mouth instead of the nose most of the time
Nose sounds "blocked" when the person speaks
Noisy breathing during the day
Recurrent ear infections
Snoring at night
Breathing stops for a few seconds at night during snoring or loud breathing
  (sleep apnea)


02.  Do you have trouble Swallowing? Insight into Dysphagia.

Difficulty in swallowing (dysphagia) is common among all age groups, especially the elderly. The term dysphagia refers to the feeling of difficulty passing food or liquid from the mouth to the stomach. This may be caused by many factors, most of which are not threatening or temporary. Difficulties in swallowing rarely represent a more serious disease, such as a tumor or a progressive neurological disorder. When the difficulty does not clear up by itself, in a short period of time, you should see an otolaryngologist - head and neck surgeon.


03.  What causes swallowing disorders?

Any interruption in the swallowing process can cause difficulties. It may be due to simple causes such as poor teeth, ill fitting dentures, or a common cold. One of the most common causes of dysphagia is gastroesophageal reflux. This occurs when stomach acid moves up the esophagus to the pharynx, causing discomfort. Other causes may include: stroke; progressive neurologic disorder; the presence of a tracheostomy tube; a paralyzed or unmoving vocal cord; a tumor in the mouth, throat, or esophagus; or surgery in the head, neck, or esophageal areas.


Symptoms of Swallowing Disorders may include:

A feeling that food or liquid is sticking in the throat
Discomfort in the throat or chest (when gastroesophageal reflux is present)
A sensation of a foreign body or "lump" in the throat
Weight loss and inadequate nutrition due to prolonged or more significant problems
  with swallowing, and Coughing or choking caused by bits of food, liquid, or saliva
  not passing easily during swallowing, and being sucked into the lungs.

04.  Gastroesophageal Reflux/Laryngopharyngeal Reflux (LPR)

The term REFLUX comes from a Greek word that means "backflow", and it usually refers to the "back flow of stomach contents". Normally, once the things that we eat reach the stomach, digestion should begin without the contents of the stomach coming back up again . . . refluxing. Not everyone with reflux has a lot of heartburn or indigestion.


05.  Tips for Reducing Reflux and Laryngopharyngeal Reflux

Control your lifestyle and your diet!

If you use tobacco, QUIT. Smoking makes you reflux. After every cigarette, you
have some LPR.

Don't wear clothing that is too tight, especially around the waist (trousers, corsets, belts)
Do not lie down just after eating . . . in fact; do not eat within three hours of bedtime.

You should be on a low fat diet.
Limit your intake of red meat
Limit your intake of butter
Avoid fried foods.
Avoid chocolate
Avoid cheese
Avoid eggs
Specifically avoid caffeine (especially coffee and tea), soda (especially cola) and mints
Avoid alcoholic beverages, particularly in the evening.


06.  What is Hoarseness?

Hoarseness is a general term that describes abnormal voice changes. When hoarse, the voice may sound breathy, raspy, strained, or there may be changes in volume (loudness) or pitch (how high or low the voice is). The changes in sound are usually due to disorders related to the vocal cords that are the sound producing parts of the voice box (larynx). While breathing, the vocal cords remain apart. When speaking or singing, they come together, and as air leaves the lungs, they vibrate, producing sound. Swelling or lumps on the vocal cords prevent them from coming together properly and changes the way the cords vibrate, which makes a change in the voice, altering quality, volume and pitch.


07.  What are the causes?

Acute laryngitis
Vocal nodules
Gastroesophageal Reflux


08.  When should I see an Otolaryngologist?

Hoarseness lasting longer than two weeks especially if you smoke
Pain not from a cold or flu
Coughing up blood
Difficulty swallowing
Lump in the neck
Loss or severe change in voice


09.  What can I do to prevent and treat mild hoarseness?

If you smoke, quit
Avoid agents which dehydrate the body, such as alcohol and caffeine
Avoid secondhand smoke
Drink plenty of water
Humidify your home
Watch your diet: Avoid spicy foods
Try not to use your voice too long or too loudly
Use a microphone in situations where you need to protect your voice
Seek professional voice training
Avoid speaking or singing when your voice is injured or hoarse. Don't sing when
you are sick.
Cape Cod Ear, Nose, & Throat Specialists. Head & Neck Surgery, P.C.
65 Cedar Street, Hyannis, MA 02601
(508) 790-0611