Hoarseness is a general term which describes abnormal voice changes.  When hoarse, the voice may sound breathy, raspy, strained, or there may be changes in volume (loudness) or pitch (how high or low the volume is).  Hoarseness is usually caused by a problem in the vocal cords.  Most cases of hoarseness are associated with inflammation of the larynx (laryngitis).

Tonsils and Adenoids

Tonsillitis occurs when the tonsils become infected. This may be caused by bacteria or viruses.  Generally, under preschool age children develop viral tonsillitis, while older children and adults are affected by bacterial infections. Viruses can also lead to bacterial infections secondarily.

 Sore Throats

Sore throat is a symptom of many medical disorders.  Infections cause the majority of sore throats and are contagious.  Infections are caused either by viruses, such as the flu, the common cold, mononucleosis, or by bacteria, such as strep, mycoplasma, or hemophilus.  While bacteria respond to antibiotic treatment, viruses do not.

Mouth Sores

Two of the most common recurrent oral lesions are fever blisters (also known as cold sores) and canker sores. Fever blisters are fluid-filled blisters that commonly occur on the lips. They also can occur on the gums and roof of the mouth (hard palate), but this is rare. Fever blisters are usually painful; pain may precede the appearance of the lesion by a few days.  The blisters rupture within hours, then crust over. They last about seven to ten days.

Canker Sores

Canker sores (also called aphthous ulcers) are different than fever blisters. They are small, red or white, shallow ulcers occurring on the tongue, soft palate, or inside the lips and cheeks; they do not occur in the roof of the mouth or the gums. They are quite painful, and usually last five to ten days.

Swallowing Disorders

Difficulty in swallowing (dysphagia) is common among all age groups, especially the elderly. The term dysphagia refers to the feeling of difficulty passing food or liquid from the mouth to the stomach. This may be caused by many factors, most of which are not threatening and temporary.  Difficulties in swallowing rarely represent a more serious disease, such as a tumor or a progressive neurological disorder. When the difficulty does not clear up by itself, in a short period of time, you should see an otolaryngologist – head and neck surgeon.