Throat

Common Conditions

Tonsil & adenoid problems – The tonsils and adenoids are parts of the immune system, and are similar to lymph nodes located throughout the neck and body.  The tonsils are ball-like masses of tissue on either side of the back of the throat, and the adenoids are a mass of tissue high in the throat behind the nose.  The adenoids cannot normally be seen through the nose or mouth.  Large tonsils can cause obstruction of the throat which can cause breathing problems or swallowing difficulty in both children and adults.  Similarly, large adenoids may cause a blockage of nasal airflow or even cause fluid to build up in the middle ears.  Tonsil and adenoid infections can be frequent and severe, causing pain, swelling and difficulty breathing or swallowing.

Snoring / obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) – Snoring and obstructive sleep apnea are common problems that can affect adults and children.Snoring can disrupt sleep for the person snoring or their bed partner.  Snoring is often, but not always, associated with sleep apnea.  Sometimes surgical intervention can help certain patients, but there are also non-surgical ways to help alleviate snoring.  Your doctor can counsel you further.Sleep apnea is a condition in which a person temporarily stops breathing during sleep.  When this is caused by blockage of the airway, it is termed obstructive sleep apnea.  Possible causes of airway obstruction include deviation of the nasal septum, large tonsils, a long soft palate, and enlargement of the base of the tongue.  OSA is often diagnosed with a sleep study (polysomnogram). Treatment options include a continuous positive pressure airway (CPAP) machine, surgery, and jaw repositioning devices.

Vocal cord disease – The vocal cords serve two main functions: protecting the airway during swallowing, and voice production.  Swallowing problems and voice changes can sometimes be a sign of problems with the vocal cords.  Otolaryngologists diagnose and treat a wide range of vocal cord and laryngeal (“voice box”) problems.

Laryngopharyngeal reflux – Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) occurs when acid and digestive enzymes from the stomach back up into the esophagus.  If the reflux backs up all the way to the throat and back of the nasal airway, it is termed laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR).  Symptoms of LPR can include sore throat, voice hoarseness, cough, difficulty swallowing, frequent throat clearing, or a feeling of a lump in the throat.  Usually a combination of medication and lifestyle changes is recommended.

Common Surgical procedures

Tonsillectomy & adenoidectomy – Removal of the tonsils and adenoids may be recommended for a variety of reasons. Common indications for surgery include large tonsils and adenoids causing obstruction of the nose and throat, and frequent infections.  Tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy are performed under general anesthesia in the operating room, and most patients go home the same day.

Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) – UPPP is the most common surgical procedure performed for obstructive sleep apnea in the U.S.  It involves removal of the tonsils (unless they’ve been previously removed) and removal of a portion of the soft palate, including the uvula (the punching bag-like structure which hangs from the soft palate).  Removal of these structures provides more space in the back of the throat.  Snoring usually improves, and some patients may even be cured of their sleep apnea with this procedure.  Your doctor can advise you further if you are found to be a candidate for this procedure.

Laryngoscopy – Laryngoscopy is a diagnostic procedure during which the surgeon examines the voice box (larynx).