Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt
Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt
Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt
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Home / A–Z Services / Pediatric Surgery / Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) Otolaryngology / Your ENT Visit / Speech, Voice, Airway, and Swallowing Problems
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Speech, Voice, Airway, and Swallowing Problems



Hoarseness, or a rough voice, has a variety of causes. Possible causes include voice abuse, acid reflux, and infection.


Noisy breathing caused by a narrowed airway and indicating an obstruction or other problem requiring treatment.

Chronic Cough

A cough that persists for more than three weeks and could be the symptom of an underlying disorder of the throat or lungs.

Airway Narrowing

An inflammation, infection, or an inhaled object can significantly narrow the airway and cause difficulty with breathing.

Airway Papillomas

The most common benign tumors of the larynx ("voice box"). They are caused by a virus and have a high rate of recurrence.

Tracheoesophageal Fistula

A disorder of the digestive system where tube that is usually connected to the lower esophagus and stomach that carries food from the mouth to the stomach is connected to the windpipe instead.

Laryngeal Cleft

A rare abnormality where there is an opening between the larynx and the esophagus so food and liquid can pass through the larynx into the lungs.


Small knots or lumps in the mouth, throat, or airway.

Tracheostomy Dependence

Some airway problems may require a surgical operation that creates an opening into the trachea with a tube inserted to provide a passage for air.


Larybngomalacia is a very common condition of infancy in which the soft, immature cartilage of the upper larynx collapses in when the baby inhales air, causing airway obstruction and noisy breathing. Tracheomalacia is a less common condition where an infant has weakness and floppiness of the walls of the windpipe (trachea), which are present at birth, causing breathing problems.

Velopharyngeal Insufficiency (VPI)

A disorder where the velopharyngeal sphincter (soft palate muscle in the mouth) does not close properly during speech, allowing air to escape through the nose instead of the mouth. This can cause difficulties in speaking.

Vocal Fold Paralysis

Vocal fold paralysis is the immobility of a vocal fold because of damage or dysfunction of its principal nerve.

Last Edited: July 8, 2016
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