Voice and Swallowing Disorders Program
Speech-language pathologists at the UC San Diego Health System provide rehabilitation services with compassion and expertise that helps you achieve your goals. Our comprehensive, state-of-the-art approach to evaluation, management and treatment of voice and swallowing disorders attracts patients from around the region who are seeking the best services available today.
Our fully licensed staff are members of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association and have completed specialized training in the diagnosis and treatment of voice and swallowing disorders. We utilize evidence based clinical methods and the latest in diagnostic technology. Our goal is to improve your quality of life through compassion, dedication, and a collective expertise.
A referral from a physician for an evaluation is necessary before any treatment can be initiated.
What is a voice disorder?
Simply put, a voice disorder is a voice that sounds out of the ordinary or calls attention to itself due to problems with vocal pitch, loudness or quality. A voice disorder may be caused by misuse of the voice which can lead to vocal nodules or polyps. Voice problems can be neurologic in origin or the consequence of surgery. Breathing may also be impacted.
Common voice disorder symptoms
- Vocal strain
- Throat pain
- Recurring voice loss
- Change in vocal pitch
- Fatigue after speaking
- Vocal tremor
- Reduced range or quality when singing
What is a swallowing disorder?
The act of swallowing involves the passage of saliva, liquid and food through the mouth, throat and esophagus. A swallowing disorder is an impairment in the ability to pass saliva, liquid and food through the digestive tract. Nutrition may be significantly impacted. Like voice disorders, swallowing impairment may due to neurologic disease, or other medical conditions. Surgery or radiation therapy can also have an impact on swallowing.
Common symptoms of a swallowing disorder
- Gagging and choking
- Food or liquid entering the windpipe
- Chronic cough
- Painful swallowing
- A feeling of a lump in the throat
- Increased time to eat
How can a speech-language pathologist help someone with a voice or swallowing disorder?
Our Voice and Swallow Disorders Clinic is a partnership between our speech-language pathology staff and our Head and Neck Surgery division's laryngologist. We also collaborate with other medical specialties such as Neurology, Gastroenterology, Head and Neck Oncology, Radiation Oncology, and Pulmonary Medicine.
- Radiologic fluoroscopic exams (Video swallow studies)
- Flexible endoscopic exams of swallowing
- Electrical stimulation
- Compensatory swallow techniques
- Muscle strengthening exercises
- Lee Silverman Voice Training (LSVT)
- Vocal function training
- Voice restoration after laryngectomy
- Home exercises