Information for Patients
Your throat is a tube that carries food to your esophagus and air to your windpipe and larynx. The technical name for your throat is the pharynx.
Throat problems are common. You've probably had a sore throat. The cause is usually a viral infection, but other causes include allergies, infection with strep bacteria or the leaking of stomach acids back up into the esophagus, called GERD.
Other problems that affect the throat include
- Tonsillitis - inflammation of the tonsils
- Croup - inflammation, usually in small children, which causes a barking cough
- Laryngitis - swelling of the voice box, which can cause a hoarse voice or loss of voice
Most throat problems are minor and go away on their own. Treatments, when needed, depend on the problem.
Voice is the sound made by air passing from your lungs through your larynx, or voice box. In your larynx are your vocal cords, two bands of muscle that vibrate to make sound. For most of us, our voices play a big part in who we are, what we do, and how we communicate. Like fingerprints, each person's voice is unique.
Many things we do can injure our vocal cords. Talking too much, screaming, constantly clearing your throat, or smoking can make you hoarse. They can also lead to problems such as nodules, polyps, and sores on the vocal cords. Other causes of voice disorders include infections, upward movement of stomach acids into the throat, growths due to a virus, cancer, and diseases that paralyze the vocal cords.
Signs that your voice isn't healthy include
- Your voice has become hoarse or raspy
- You've lost the ability to hit some high notes when singing
- Your voice suddenly sounds deeper
- Your throat often feels raw, achy, or strained
- It's become an effort to talk
Treatment for voice disorders varies depending on the cause. Most voice problems can be successfully treated when diagnosed early.
NIH: National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders