Vanderbilt Bill Wilkerson Center

Speech, Voice, Airway and Swallowing Problems

Vanderbilt’s Pediatric Otolaryngologists diagnose and treat the following speech, voice, airway or swallowing disorders:

Airway Narrowing: An inflammation, infection, or an inhaled object can significantly narrow the airway and cause difficulty with breathing.

Airway Papillomas: The most common benign tumors of the larynx (voice box); they are caused by a virus and have a high rate of recurrence.

Chronic Cough: A cough that persists for more than three weeks and could be the symptom of an underlying disorder of the throat or lungs.

Hoarseness: Hoarseness, or a rough voice, has a variety of causes. Possible causes include voice abuse, acid reflux and infection.

Laryngeal Cleft: A rare abnormality where there is an opening between the larynx and the esophagus so food and liquid can pass through the larynx into the lungs.

Laryngolmalacia/Tracheomalacia: Larybngomalacia is a very common condition of infancy in which the soft, immature cartilage of the upper larynx collapses inward when the baby inhales air, causing airway obstruction and noisy breathing. Tracheomalacia is a less common condition where an infant has weakness and floppiness of the walls of the windpipe (trachea), which are present at birth, causing breathing problems.

Nodules: Small knots or lumps in the mouth, throat or airway.

Stridor: Noisy breathing caused by a narrowed airway and indicating an obstruction or other problem requiring treatment.

Tracheoesophageal Fistula: A disorder of the digestive system where tube that is usually connected to the lower esophagus and stomach that carries food from the mouth to the stomach is connected to the windpipe instead.

Tracheostomy Dependence: Some airway problems may require a surgical operation that creates an opening into the trachea with a tube inserted to provide a passage for air.

Velopharyngeal Insufficiency (VPI): A disorder where the velopharyngeal sphincter (soft palate muscle in the mouth) does not close properly during speech, allowing air to escape through the nose instead of the mouth. This can cause difficulties in speaking.

Vocal Fold Paralysis: Vocal fold paralysis is the immobility of a vocal fold because of damage or dysfunction of its principal nerve.

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