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6826 Plum Creek Drive
Amarillo, TX 79124
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Throat Care

It’s hard to imagine life without your voice. We understand the frustration you may be going through which is why we’re here to help. This page for common and severe throat illnesses was created to serve as a lifeline all our patients have full and open access to. Something as simple as a sore throat caused by a viral infection can force you to miss school or work. Reflux can completely ruin your favorite meal causing burning in your chest and throat. Vocal problems can crush a performance for anyone in the performing arts. We want to see you thrive in your personal and professional life which is why in connection with this online resource, our staff is here to find the best solution to solve your illness using the latest and best practices in the industry.

Sore Throat

Not only can sore throats be a pain in the neck but they can last for more than a week. Medically called pharyngitis, sore throats stem from inflammation of your pharynx otherwise known as your throat. Usually the symptoms associated with sore throat fade without medical intervention, however consulting a medical professional is a good idea if your symptoms worsen or don’t resolve within a week.

Symptoms & Causes

Sore throats are usually caused by viral infections relating to the common cold, flu, mono, measles, and chickenpox. Sometimes strep throat, allergies, dryness or stomach reflux can be the cause of sore throats. The condition can cause swallowing to hurt, more sneezing or coughing than usual, runny nose, mild fever and bad breath. Other symptoms include dry throat, swollen tonsils and muffled voice. See your doctor if your symptoms become too painful or last more than a week.

Diagnosis & Treatment

Your doctor will perform a physical evaluation and likely ask a few questions. You might also undergo a throat swab saliva sample to be tested for bacteria. Based on your physician’s medical opinion you may receive advice for home remedies or prescription antibiotics. Getting plenty of sleep and water is crucial to a speedy recovery. To ease the pain of a sore throat trying eating warm and thick foods like honey or soup. Also try gargling with saltwater to ease pain. Using an air humidifier is also a good idea to make sure the air your breathing isn’t dry and damaging. Most sore throats are viral in nature and no medication is recommended. However, some sore throats stemming from bacterial infections can be treated with antibiotics. Your doctor will best know how to determine the right options for you.

Prevention

By avoiding sore throats you can dodge many of the common conditions that make for long and tiring days battling the virus that has infected your throat. Follow the best practices for avoiding the viruses that can cause sore throats: Washing your hands regularly, utilizing hand sanitizer and avoiding contact with people who are sick and those who smoke are all good tips for preventing sore throats.

Hoarseness

Our senses are vital to our lives and this is perfectly exemplified when we suffer from hoarseness. The inability to communicate properly can create problems while our voice is abnormally deep or harsh. This condition afflicting our vocal cords usually arises from overuse or abuse of our vocal cords. Swelling of the larynx sometimes occurs alongside hoarseness.

Symptoms & Causes

Most people suffering hoarseness have suffered from irritation or injury to the voice box or larynx. When we speak or sing the vocal cords that usually vibrate freely can become restricted. Other causes can include stomach reflux, allergies, smoking, thyroid problems or cancer of the larynx. Symptoms can be a sore throat and abnormal voice that is raspy or cracks often. Most cases of hoarseness subside naturally with time and can be treated with home remedies. However, if problems with your voice continue more than two weeks, worsen drastically or begin to cause acute pain contact your doctor right away.

Diagnosis & Treatment

The best treatment for worn-out vocal cords is patients. With time and vocal rest your immune system will repair the damage done to the larynx and return your voice to normal. Avoid singing, talking loudly or whispering while your rest your voice. Don’t gargle or use decongestants. Consider stopping smoking if you do. Also humidifying the air and drinking water can offer relief. If you decide your symptoms are too severe or lasting too long then see your doctor. She or he may ask you some questions and perform a laryngoscopy, throat culture or could order an X-ray or CT scan. Depending upon the results your doctor may prescribe medication or alternative treatment plan based on the diagnosis (ie. allergies, bronchitis, larnygitis, vocal abuse).

Prevention

There are lifestyle choices you can make to prevent your risk of suffering hoarseness. Drinking lots of water, avoiding spicy and acidic foods, limiting alcohol and caffeine and not smoking are the major factors that can contribute to hoarseness. The single largest factor may be avoiding the overuse or abuse of your voice. Don’t clear your throat often, shout, or whisper too much at a stretch. Performers and public speakers should try to utilize a microphone and speaker instead of raising their voice.

Swallowing

Pain or problems while swallowing can cause anxiety and stress and hamper your lifestyle. Medically called dysphagia, difficulty swallowing typically occurs in older patients and usually isn’t cause for grave concern. However if problems swallowing persist more than a day or two or cause acute pain it’s best to contact your doctor.

Symptoms & Causes

Difficulty swallowing can arise from problems with numerous nerves and muscles in your mouth and throat. Brain damage, nerve damage, cancer, stomach reflux and even old food can cause difficulty swallowing. Symptoms can include not being able to swallow, drooling, hoarseness, heartburn and severe coughing or gagging. Your doctor will best be able to pinpoint the underlying cause of your dysphagia and offer the best solution.

Diagnosis & Treatment

The most common evaluations your doctor may ask you to undergo after an interview and physical exam are cineradiography, upper endoscopy and manometry. Each help your doctor find out exactly what part of your mouth and throat is causing your symptoms. Treatments for difficulty swallowing are ranging. Your doctor might simply recommend a speech or swallowing therapist while more severe cases could require surgery or prescription medication.

Prevention

Preventing dysphagia is difficult because the causes are often neurological. However, to reduce the risk it’s best to eat slowly, chew food thoroughly and drink plenty of water.

Reflux

If you’ve ever had acid reflux you know the pain and discomfort a once enjoyable activity like eating dinner can cause. Medically termed Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease or GERD, reflux is a condition in which acid in your stomach flows backwards up your throat causing a burning sensation beneath your breastbone.

Symptoms & Causes

Reflux occurs when the valve that opens and closes to let food pass from your throat to your stomach doesn’t completely close. The causes of this problem can range from poor diet, eating habits, medications and lifestyle choices such as smoking or drinking. Symptoms of reflux include heartburn after eating, food regurgitation, hoarseness and coughing. Make sure to contact your doctor if you are in severe pain or the reflux has persisted more than a few meals.

Diagnosis & Treatment

Your doctor will ask you a few questions to gauge the severity of your reflux and then may recommend lifestyle changes or an antacid. If the pain has persisted for longer than a month you may be referred to a specialist known as a gastroenterologist. If the over-the-counter medications and lifestyle changes don’t resolve your symptoms a stronger antacid or surgery might be the last solution option to take.

Prevention

To stop reflux before it starts try to avoid some of the key contributing factors that cause the problem. This means eating smaller meals, avoid late-night snacks, alcohol, smoking and spicy foods. Also try not to wear tight clothing or put pressure on your stomach.