Voice and swallowing

Protecting and enhancing your voice and swallowing abilities

If you have a chronic voice, swallowing or airway condition that requires treatment, UW Health's voice and swallowing team of ear, nose and throat surgeons and speech and language pathologists is ready to develop a care plan just for you.
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Overview

Specialized care

Changes in your speaking, voice or ability to swallow can be concerning. Specialists at UW Health diagnose disorders related to voice and swallowing, whether they are the result of injury, illness or another health issue.

We provide in-office evaluation and treatment for many airway, swallowing and voice disorders. We help you manage common and complex disorders. We offer highly specialized care.

Conditions and treatments

In-depth diagnosis, advanced treatments

At UW Health, we diagnose and treat many swallowing, voice and airway conditions. We do a complete review of your symptoms and concerns. We talk with you about any medical, lifestyle or occupational factors that may be affecting your condition and tailor your treatment to your unique needs.

How we diagnose voice conditions

Changes to the vocal folds or how they move or vibrate can cause a voice disorder. Your provider examines your vocal folds using a camera and light source (videostroboscopy) or a high-speed camera.

Conditions that can cause voice disorders include:

  • Aging

  • Deconditioning

  • Phonotrauma (overuse)

  • Vocal fold paralysis

  • Surgery to the neck or throat

  • Neurological disease (ALS, MS, myasthenia gravis, Parkinson's disease)

  • Stroke

  • Head and neck cancer

We talk with you about your symptoms, which might include:

  • Hoarseness

  • Changes in voice after trauma or surgery to the neck, throat or larynx

  • Difficulty with speaking loudly

  • Frequent laryngitis

  • Increased effort to talk

  • Pain or discomfort with speaking or singing

  • Scratchy, weak or breathy voice

  • Voice fatigue (worsening voice quality or discomfort with voice use)

  • Change in your singing voice

We use the most advanced evaluation techniques to assess your voice and make a diagnosis. These include:

  • Acoustic analysis

  • Aerodynamic analysis

  • Videolaryngostroboscopy

  • High-speed digital imaging

How we diagnose swallowing conditions

Swallowing is a complex body function. Conditions that can cause swallowing difficulties include:

  • Brain injury

  • Deconditioning

  • Head and neck cancer

  • Neurological disease (ALS, MS, myasthenia gravis, Parkinson's disease)

  • Stroke

  • Surgery to the neck or throat

  • Vocal fold paralysis

We discuss your symptoms, which can include:

  • Coughing during or after swallowing

  • Difficulty chewing solids

  • Frequent throat clearing while eating or drinking

  • Having food or liquids dripping out of the mouth

  • Recurring pneumonia or respiratory infections

  • Regurgitation

  • Sensation of food “sticking” in your throat

  • Unexplained weight loss

  • Wet or gurgling voice with eating or drinking

We use the most advanced imaging techniques to watch your swallowing process and make a diagnosis. These include:

  • Videofluoroscopy

  • Fiberoptic endoscopic evaluation of swallowing (FEES)

  • High-resolution pharyngeal manometry

How we diagnose airway conditions

Airway symptoms are sometimes tied to voice and swallowing disorders. Conditions that can cause breathing difficulty, cough and/or throat clearing can include:

  • Neuropathy

  • Structural or movement problems with the larynx or airway

  • Surgery to the neck or throat

  • Vocal fold paralysis

  • We discuss your symptoms, which may include:

  • Chronic coughing

  • Chronic throat clearing

  • Difficulty breathing

We use the most advanced evaluation techniques to assess your larynx and upper airway. These include:

  • Videolaryngostroboscopy

Managing and treating your voice and swallowing disorder

We provide treatments to restore your voice and swallowing ability. We teach you how to manage your condition.

Voice disorder treatments we provide include:

  • Voice therapy (in person and telehealth)

  • Perioperative voice therapy (before and after surgery)

  • Gender affirmation voice evaluation and therapy

  • Intensive voice therapy (multiple sessions in one day)

  • Surgery, including:

    • In-office treatments such as Botox injections, injection medialization procedures, KTP laser (potassium titanyl phosphate) laryngoscopy, laryngotracheoscopy and transnasal esophagoscopy

    • Hospital surgery procedures, including phonomicrosurgery and endoscopic cancer treatment

Swallowing treatments we provide include:

  • Diet modifications

  • Feeding strategies

  • Swallowing therapy

  • Surgery

Airway treatments we provide include:

  • Behavioral therapy

  • Botox injections

  • Airway surgery

Specialty programs

Specialized care for voice professionals

If you depend on your voice for your career, the doctors and staff at UW Health can help you protect your voice. We understand how vital voice quality is to singers, actors, teachers, broadcasters, salespeople, clergy and others whose voices are a crucial part of their job.

We provide two programs for voice professionals:

  • Professional and performing voice programs

  • Voice use for professional and amateur singers

Improving voice and swallowing treatment through research

Our specialists at UW Health work continuously to improve the care we provide. We study ways to restore voice quality and swallowing functions. Learn more

Meet our team

Expert care

The voice and swallowing team at UW Health includes experts in ear, nose and throat conditions, voice, airway, cough and swallowing disorders, speech and language pathology and surgery.

Locations

How to find us

We offer specialized voice and swallow treatment at UW Health clinics in Madison, Wis.

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  • 1 S. Park Clinic - Voice
    • 1 S. Park St. / Madison, WI
    • (608) 287-2500
    • Closed now
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  • University Hospital - Voice and Swallow Clinic
    • 600 Highland Ave. / Madison, WI
    • (608) 263-6190
    • Closed now
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  • Digestive Health Center - Swallow Clinic
    • 750 University Row / Madison, WI
    • (608) 890-5000
    • Closed now
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Patient resources

Get the most from your care

Patient stories

Actors from American Players Theatre in Spring Green, Wis., learn how to take care of their voices at our voice clinic.

Watch their story

Madison-based opera singer Kitt Reuter-Foss knew something was not right with her internationally renowned voice. Her vocal range was off by an octave and her voice was making unhealthy sounds. Doctors at UW Health found and removed growths on her vocal cords. Surgery and speech therapy restored Kitt’s voice.

Read Kitt's story