Throat & voice

Throat & voice

“The human voice is the organ of the soul”

– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


The throat is part of the digestive system and also of the conducting zone of the respiratory system.The muscles of the throat constrict to force food toward the oesophagus when swallowing. The larynx, commonly called the voice box, is the organ that contains the vocal folds that allow your voice to be heard. Normal physiology protects the larynx and therefore the airway when swallowing. Problems in this area can lead to change in voice, discomfort and difficulty swallowing.


Hoarse voice

Hoarseness or Dysphonia means a change in the sound of someone’s voice. People suffering from hoarseness can experience a strained, husky, breathy or whispering voice. They may also notice a difference in loudness and/or changes in how high or low their voice sounds. The commonest causes are: a viral upper respiratory tract infection, stomach acid/enzymes irritating the throat (Laryngopharyngeal Reflux), a build-up of soft tissue (polyps) or thickenings (nodules) on the vocal cords. These can develop when the voice is used too much or too loudly for long periods of time (Singer’s Nodules). Vocal cord polyps are often related to smoking. Problems with the strength of the lungs can also lead to a change in voice. Rarely a growth or tumour develops on the vocal cords and or voice box. These may be non-cancerous (benign) or cancerous (malignant). Mr Harris will be able to examine the throat to help identify the cause of the hoarseness. This is done by nasendoscopy. This examination is done at the time of your out-patient visit.

Lump in the throat / globus pharyngeus

A persistent lump in the throat feeling is sometimes described as Globus Pharynges.

The most common cause of is acid reflux from the stomach. We sometimes recommend and organise joint management with a gastroenterologist. Treatment may include treating the acid reflux or Physiotherapy for the muscles around the throat.

Sore throat

Sore throats are common and not always due to tonsillitis. Most acute sore throats are viral in origin. Most patients recover within one week. Infection with bacteria can rarely lead to complications such as quinsy, (tonsil abscess) nephritis (kidney inflammation) and rheumatic fever(heart and joint inflammation). The commonest cause of chronic sore throat in adults is chronic pharyngitis, which is non-infective (e.g. smoking, alcohol, or acid indigestion). The throat may feel persistently dry.


In acute bacterial tonsillitis, the patient is usually unwell, with large tonsils covered in white matter called exudates, a fever and sometimes headache and swollen glands in the neck. If it is severe and frequent, coblation tonsil surgery may be discussed as a management option with you.

Tonsil stones (Tonsilloliths)

Debris can collect in the pits and grooves of the surface of tonsils to form white lumps of tissue that can cause inflammation and sore throat and bad breath. Physically removing the stones intermittently and gargling is not effective for most cases of recurrent stones. Coblation tonsillotomy is an effective treatment option.

Bad breath (Halitosis)

Bad breath can be caused by inflammation of the nose, mouth or throat caused by infection or acid reflux into the throat from the stomach. Rarely a metabolic disorder may cause bad breath.

Difficulty swallowing

Dysphagia is the medical term for swallowing difficulties. Some people with dysphagia have problems swallowing certain foods or liquids, while others can’t swallow at all. Other signs of dysphagia include; coughing or choking when eating or drinking, bringing food back up, sometimes through the nose, a sensation that food is stuck in your throat or chest or persistent drooling of saliva.


A cough is a reflex action to clear your airways of mucus and irritants such as dust or smoke. Coughs may be dry or chesty and most coughs clear up within a few weeks. Persistent coughs can be investigated with nasendoscopy and allergy testing.


Snoring may be caused by problems relating to the throat. Please refer to snoring page for more information.



Fibre-optic naso-pharyngo-laryngoscopy


Coblation tonsillectomy
Coblation adenoidectomy
Coblation reduction of tongue base
Coblation uvulopalatoplasty

Disclaimer: This publication is designed for the information of patients. Whilst every effort has been made to ensure accuracy, the information contained may not be comprehensive and patients should not act upon it without seeking professional advice.