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Voice and Swallowing

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VoiceSwallowingYour physician at Ear, Nose and Throat Associates of South Florida is dedicated to the diagnosis, treatment, and management of laryngeal, voice and swallowing disorders.

Our Board Certified and Fellowship trained physicians and staff provide state-of-the art medical and surgical care for patients of all ages with a wide variety of disorders.

We take a team approach, working closely with our on-staff Speech and Language Pathologist to provide our patients comprehensive, state-of-the-art diagnostic evaluation of voice, swallowing and speech using digital Videostroboscopy.  Our desire is to help patients achieve their highest quality of life – no matter their age – by early diagnosis, treatment and education.  Your voice, speech and swallowing matter!

Voice Disorders

Many people experience voice problems that do not go away by clearing the throat. Vocal disorders develop for many reasons, ranging from vocal abuse to allergies or sometimes cancer.  The physicians at Ear, Nose and Throat Associates of South Florida are skilled in the treatment and diagnosis of all voice disorders.

Laryngitis

Laryngitis is an inflammation of the voice box (larynx).  Symptoms are an unnatural change of voice, such as hoarseness, or even loss of voice that develops within hours to a day or so.  The throat may tickle or feel raw, and a person may have a constant urge to clear the throat. Symptoms vary with the severity of the inflammation.

Vocal cord nodules/polyps

Vocal cord nodules are small growths on both vocal folds that are caused by vocal abuse.  Polyps can appear on either one or both vocal cords.  Their appearance varies from a swelling or bump (like a nodule) to a stalk-like growth or a blister-like lesion.

Vocal cord paralysis

Everyone has two vocal cords in his or her larynx (voicebox). The vocal cords vibrate during speech to produce voice.  If one or both vocal cords are paralyzed and are unable to move then the person will experience voice problems and possibly breathing and swallowing problems.

Bilateral paralysis is often medically treated but may require a tracheotomy to allow the person to breathe and/or eat safely. Surgery may be considered to bring one or both vocal cords closer to midline.  Unilateral paralysis can be treated medically and/or behaviorally.  Medical treatment includes muscle-nerve transplant, medialization thyroplasty (moving the paralyzed vocal fold toward midline), or injection of a substance to increase the size of the paralyzed vocal cord.  Behavioral treatment includes voice therapy by a speech-language therapist.  Depending on the individual patient’s condition, it may be the only treatment required.

Spasmodic Dysphonia

Spasmodic dysphonia is a disorder characterized by involuntary movements of one or more muscles of the larynx or voice box. The first signs of spasmodic dysphonia are most often found in individuals between 30 and 50 years old. More women appear to be affected by spasmodic dysphonia than men.  With spasmodic dysphonia, movement of the vocal cords is forced and strained resulting in a jerky, quivery, hoarse, tight or groaning voice.

At present, there is no cure for spasmodic dysphonia.  However, several treatment options do exist for voice improvement. Repeat injections of small doses of botulinum toxin (Botox) into one or both vocal cords are frequently recommended.  Botox weakens the laryngeal muscles and results in a smoother, less effortful voice because of less forceful closing of the vocal cords.  Temporary breathiness or difficulty swallowing sometimes occurs for a short time after injection. Treatment by a speech-language therapist may also be recommended following injections to optimize voice production.

Swallowing Disorders

Difficulty in swallowing (dysphagia) is common among all age groups, especially the elderly.  Many patients with swallowing disorders can be treated with medication.  Drugs that slow stomach acid production, muscle relaxants and antacids are a few of the many medicines available.  Surgery is used to treat certain swallowing problems.  If a narrowing exists, or a muscle is too tight,  the area may need to be stretched or the muscle may need to be released surgically.

Cheryl Lynn Carrier, MA, CCC-SLP

ASHA Certified – Speech and Language Pathologist

Cheryl Lynn Carrier, MA, CCC-SLP

Raised in Delray Beach with undergraduate studies at Florida State University, Lynn returned to her home area and has been serving the communities of Palm Beach and Martin Counties since 1992. She owned and managed three Medicare-participating rehab agencies. In her 30+ years of experience, Lynn has evaluated and treated patients in all phases of illness and recovery – acute hospital including ICU, step down unit, in-patient rehab, skilled nursing, home health, out-patient hospital based rehab and private practice.  Most recently Lynn was Sr. Speech language pathologist at Boca Community Hospital - Davis Therapy Center, where she was Speech liaison for the Head and Neck Multi-Modality Tumor Conference, and facilitator for the New Voice Club for laryngectomy patients.

Lynn has studied with some of the leading voice pathologists and dysphagia therapists in the country, she has additional training in evaluation by videostroboscopy and care of the laryngectomy patient.

ynn is dedicated to bringing her extensive training and experience to expand our team and continue her care in the evaluation and treatment of voice, swallowing and speech disorders in her home area.

Our ability to communicate and swallow is basic to the core of the quality of our life.  It affects all aspects of our life - family, social activities, work or education, leisure activities.  It is my desire to develop a program of early detection and rehabilitation to achieve the highest quality of life for my patients.”

Lynn has been caring for the needs of patients with voice, swallowing and speech disorders for over 30 years. Although proficient in all aspects of speech-language pathology, her interests focus on evaluation and treatment of:

  • Adult voice disorders including evaluation by videostroboscopy.
  • Care of the professional voice.
  • Voice, swallowing and speech disorders associated with head and neck cancer.
  • Dysphagia-swallowing disorders in adults, including treatment with electrical stimulation therapy.
  • Care of the laryngectomy patient.
  • Speech and swallowing disorders associated with degenerative neurological diseases – Parkinson’s disease, ALS, etc.
  • Adult brain injury including CVA, traumatic head injury.

Lynn currently sees patients in our North Boca Raton office and our Plantation office.

If you are interested in making an appointment with Lynn, or would like additional information about our practice, please contact our North Boca Raton office or our Plantation office at (561) 939-0161.