doctor Find a doctor
Voice and Swallowing (Throat Problems)

Voice and Swallowing Conditions We Treat

The Center for Voice and Swallowing offers a wide array of evaluation and treatment options for patients with various voice and swallowing disorders, including:

  • Acid reflux and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) are closely related, but the terms don't necessarily mean the same thing. Acid reflux is the backward flow of stomach acid into the esophagus — the tube that connects the throat and stomach. Acid reflux is more specifically known as gastroesophageal reflux. During an episode of acid reflux, you may taste regurgitated food or sour liquid at the back of your mouth or feel a burning sensation in your chest (heartburn). Sometimes acid reflux progresses to GERD, a more severe form of reflux that happens more frequently than it should. The most common symptom of GERD is frequent heartburn. Other signs and symptoms may include regurgitation of food or sour liquid, difficulty swallowing, coughing, wheezing, and chest pain — especially while lying down at night. If you have occasional acid reflux, lifestyle changes can help. Lose excess weight, eat smaller meals, and avoid foods that seem to trigger heartburn — such as fried or fatty foods, chocolate, and peppermint. Avoiding alcohol and nicotine may help, too.
  • Esophageal Cancer
  • Nodules, Polyps, and Cysts
  • Paradoxical vocal fold movement (PVFM)
  • Sulcus vocalis is used specifically to describe a groove or infolding of mucosa along the edge of the vocal fold that is used to make a voice. In the area of the sulcus, the mucosa is scarred down to the underlying vocal ligament, giving it a retracted appearance. Abnormal vocal scarring results in tissue in the vibrating layer of the vocal fold that causes voice problems an alteration in the normal physiology of vocal fold vibration exists, which affects voice production.
  • Salivary Gland Disease
  • Spasmodic dysphonia belongs to a family of neurological disorders called dystonias. A dystonia is a movement disorder that causes muscles to contract and spasm involuntarily. Spansmodic dysphonia (SD) is task-specific, meaning that the muscles spasm only when they are used for particular actions and not when they are at rest. When a person with SD attempts to speak, involuntary spasms in the tiny muscles of the larynx cause the voice to break up, or sound strained, tight, strangled, breathy, or whispery. The spasms often interrupt the sound, squeezing the voice to nothing in the middle of a sentence, or dropping it to a whisper. However, during other activities, such as breathing and swallowing, the larynx functions normally.
  • Vocal Cord Paralysis
  • Voice Box (Laryngeal) Cancer
  • Zenker's Diverticulum

infographic describing how BMC's team of physicians approaches treating voice disorders

Voice and Swallowing at Boston Medical Center


830 Harrison Avenue
Boston, MA 02118
Moakley Building
Ground Floor


Monday-Friday - 7:30 AM - 5:00 PM