Asthma or Ventricular Dysphonia?

Asthma or Ventricular Dysphonia? This is an uncommon condition that few persons would ask me about. The reason for including ventricular dysphonia here is that when this is misdiagnosed, the results can be tragic and ruin a person’s life. This condition takes place when people speak and breathe incorrectly. Normally the vocal cords open wide as you inhale and come together as you exhale. When you speak, the air easily passes out between the vocal cords, and the cords vibrate to make the speech sound. In some cases, however, the speech is made with the ventricular bands, above the vocal cords, not the vocal cords proper. As the bands come together during inhalation, it sounds squeaky, raspy, almost a grunting. A wheeze is heard that sounds just like asthma. Because of the narrowing of the opening, less air reaches the lungs. Louie Armstrong had a ventricular dysphonia voice, as do a lot of ventriloquists, but fortunately no signs of asthma. In 1983, physicians at National Jewish Hospital For Asthma in Denver reported this condition that may mimic asthma. They called it Vocal Cord Dysfunction, VCD. VCD causes asthma-like symptoms because of an abnormal closing of the vocal cords. VCD can cause difficult breathing and even wheezing. Based on these symptoms, many people with VCD may be diagnosed with asthma and treated with asthma medications, including oral steroids. The problem is that the only symptoms of VCD are an unusual voice and wheezing. Even the pulmonary function studies are nearly normal. The diagnosis of VCD consists of recognizing the voice characteristics, looking with an instrument, the flexible laryngoscope, and seeing...

Halitosis (Bad Breath)

Halitosis Do you have Halitosis (Bad Breath)? Bad breath is particularly bothersome because people rarely know they have it unless they are told of it. Yet it can spoil one’s social and even economic life. And mouth washes are not always useful. When bacteria stagnate, or remain in one place, they multiply and give off toxins and odors. So the treatment/ prevention is to avoid having bacteria accumulate in one spot. In the nose this means salt water nose spray or Pulsating Nasal Irrigation if you have crusts and other sources of odor. For the throat, check the teeth. Any open cavities? Any gum disease? I strongly recommend eating yogurt in order to bring in the good bacteria that make the mouth healthier. If the gums are red and swollen, better brushing and flossing is a must. A common cause of breath problems are the deep holes in the tonsils, known as crypts. These holes are supposed to be there, they provide areas where the good white cells of the body can fight the bad bacteria. Then the dead bacteria and dead white cells are extruded and swallowed. Sometimes the holes are too wide or crooked and the material gets to accumulate and cause odor. Here, pulsatile throat irrigation can be very effective because the pulsation removes the dead material. The mouth may be extra dry for lack of fluids. Try increasing fluid intake. Indigestion may be a factor. An excellent remedy is to take protelytic enzyme tablets for digestion. (Papain and bromelain, in combination, and with calibrated enzyme activity are best.) If you are milk intolerant, there are...

Laryngitis

Do you have hoarseness or laryngitis? When we speak, two membranes, the vocal cords, vibrate to make sound. Hoarseness indicates these cords are malfunctioning either from swelling after yelling at the football game, or infection, or excess smoking or something interfering with this movement. At the start of hoarseness DO NOT GARGLE. This is like rubbing your eyes when they are inflamed. Reduce your talking, stay off the phone. Coughing makes hoarseness much worse. Steam is good – boil water, stick out your tongue and breathe the steam. Drink warm liquids – more is better, but not boiling hot. Avoid ice. Papain/ bromelain enzyme tablets, dissolved in the mouth between the cheek and gums, are very effective. This is especially useful if the pain follows flying or scuba diving. It is very important to look for a) a combination of papain and bromelain, and b) a calibrated enzyme activity of one million units of bromelain from pineapple and a half million units of papain from papaya. (Be careful of using enzyme tablets which do not list the enzyme activity – you can’t be sure if you’re getting the right amount, and most have insignificant activity.) Hoarseness develops because the cold or sore throat gets to the larynx and causes the vocal cords to swell. It gets worse because we try to speak in spite of the swelling, or if people speak incorrectly. The more relaxed your neck muscles, the less chance for hoarseness. Frequent hoarseness may be caused by tight neck muscles. Make sure your head is not turned when you talk. Speaking from bed may be a factor....

Frequent Sore Throat

Frequent Sore Throats Everyone gets a sore throat at some time. The nose and throat are constantly defending against outside elements and bacteria. When bacteria settle in the nose, the bacteria are seized and dragged off to “battle stations” or lymph glands where the good white cells are kept. More good blood comes to the area. There, the concentration of good white cells can overwhelm the bacteria. But when the lymph material swells, this causes a painful throat. The throat infection may be from a bacteria or a virus. It may be part of a generalized infection There are 3 parts to the throat: the part behind the nose at the top of the throat called the nasopharynx where the tubes that run from the ears to the nose open, the middle throat where the tonsils are located and where you can often look at the throat, called the oropharynx and the lower part, behind and below the tongue, where the larynx or voice box is, the laryngopharynx. When the top one third of the throat is affected, the ears may be infected too because the infection travels up the eustachian tube into the middle ear. When the lower 1/3 of the throat is infected, you may be hoarse because the larynx is swollen and can’t function see Laryngitis or hoarseness. Many people get hoarse because they gargle with a sore throat, which is like rubbing your eyes when they are infected. When you feel a sore throat coming on, aspirin chewing gum, any flavor is recommended. Ice drinks are best when there is swelling or pain. The throat...

Cough with Asthma or Allergy

Many asthmatics cough. As a rule this is caused by the failure of the microscopic cilia of the chest to beat at a normal rate of 16 to 20 beats per second. Especially if there is infection and pus in the nose, the toxin from the infection can act as an irritant If the bronchi are swollen or in spasm, this can affect the tracheobronchial cilia and instead of the normal ciliary action, we cough. For example, the coal miner doesn’t cough. But when he inhales a large piece of coal that is too big for his cilia to handle, he coughs to get rid of it. When the patient has the flu, the cilia are poisoned by the toxins and they fail, then cough takes over. Many studies have shown that clearing the sinus infection can reduce the cough of allergy or asthma. Antibiotics of course are important. Unfortunately the number of drug resistant bacteria is on the increase so other techniques have to be considered. Deep breathing, raising the elbows as you inhale is good. Hot tea with lemon and honey is helpful. Hot compresses applied over the nose, below, and above the eyes are helpful. Medications containing guiafenesin are recommended. Sometimes making a low-pitched sound which penetrates deep behind the eyes can be beneficial. Pulsatile irrigation is especially helpful, since it actually helps the body help itself – it invigorates the nasal and sinus cilia so they can protect the body against irritants and contagions. This method is safe, safer than blowing your nose. There is some evidence that pulsatile nasal irrigation is helpful to restore...

Snoring and What to do About it

Why do we snore? In deep sleep the muscles of the tongue, throat and roof of mouth relax and allow the tongue and soft palate and uvula to fall backward. The heavier the person is, the more overweight, the more this backward fall can close the breathing passage. In a recent study it was shown that by correcting the nasal condition and shrinking the tonsils, even sleep apnea can be corrected. Did you know there are doctors who specialize in snoring? And no wonder, snoring can destroy a relationship ! It can also change you from a pep and energy person to one who drags himself around all day half asleep. Normal Sleep Normally the person breathes openly and there is no alteration of sound such as snoring. If the nose is congested, if there is post-nasal drip or sinus or allergy, the reduced airway can produce sounds, which the partner doesn’t care for. However, a second change takes place. When there is drainage from the nose, this can affect the soft tissues of the throat. The tonsils may enlarge, there may be swelling of the back of the throat or the top of the throat too. Even the tongue may be affected. This enlargement acts as a stop valve to create the obstructive aspects of snoring called sleep apnea. Social Snoring Socially, snoring can be a true handicap. No question that snoring severely bothers the partner’s sleep, and earplugs may not be a sufficient answer. A separate bedroom is not a happy answer. Social snoring may be defined as loud noises made in sleep that doesn’t affect the...