Voice & Swallowing

Most people take their voice for granted until they experience a voice or swallowing disorder. Voice and swallowing disorders require careful analysis and at The Virginia Institute of Surgical Arts, Dr. Trang Vo-Nguyen (Dr. V) is dedicated to evaluating, diagnosing, and treating a wide range of voice and swallowing issues. Dr. V is a Board Certified Otolaryngologist (Head and Neck Doctor) and her area of expertise is treating all diseases and problems of the head and neck, particularly the ears, nose, and throat (ENT). Dr. V understands that having a voice or swallowing disorder can greatly limit your ability to eat, drink, or communicate and sometimes even a mild voice disorder can be a sign of a more serious health problem. Dr. V is also a Facial Plastic Surgeon (an additional sub-specialty of Otolaryngology) and this extensive experience allows her to custom tailor your procedure to address your specific facial rejuvenation needs.

Common voice and swallowing complaints include:

  • Persistent choking
  • Gagging
  • Chronic coughing
  • Painful swallowing
  • A feeling of a lump in the throat
  • Hoarseness or laryngitis
  • Painful speech
  • Inability to project voice
  • Voice fatigue
  • Frequent throat clearing
  • Voice changes
  • Soundless or breathy voice
  • Raspy or low voice
  • Drooling
  • Shaky or irregular voice

You should see an otolaryngologist (ENT doctor) if your hoarseness lasts longer than two weeks, your cough persists for more than two weeks, you are coughing up unexplained blood, you have difficulty swallowing, you have noisy breathing, or you have a lump in your neck or throat. When dysphagia is persistent and the cause is not apparent, during your consultation Dr. V will discuss the history of your problem and examine your mouth and throat. Sometimes she will place a small tube (flexible laryngoscope) through your nose and you will be given food to eat while the scope is in place. This provides Dr. V visualization to the back of your tongue, throat, and larynx (voice box) and these procedures are called FEES (Fiber optic Endoscopic Evaluation of Swallowing) or FEESST (Flexible Endoscopic Evaluation of Swallowing with Sensory Testing). If necessary, an examination of your esophagus, known as a TransNasal Esophagoscopy (TNE), may also be used. Once the cause is determined, your swallowing disorders may be treated with swallowing therapy, medication, or surgery. Surgery is normally used to treat problems if a narrowing exists in your throat or esophagus and the area needs to be stretched. If a muscle is too tight, it may need to be dilated and this procedure is called a myotomy.

The Virginia Institute of Surgical Arts is nationally recognized for providing comprehensive diagnostic and treatment options including state-of-the-art medical, surgical, and behavioral care for the voice and swallowing systems. Our goal is to always provide our patients with the best treatment options available while preserving the highest level of voice or swallowing function. Dr. V stays up-to-date on the latest technology so she can integrate new treatment methods for any of your voice and swallowing disorders and during your consultation, she will evaluate your condition and provide the right treatment plan designed specifically for you. The Virginia Institute of Surgical Arts performs diagnosis and treatment for the full range of voice and swallowing disorders so if you suspect you may have a problem, please schedule an appointment today.

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