Spasmodic Dysphonia: A Rare Voice Disorder with Lifelong Effects

It’s not uncommon to lose your voice from time to time, to become hoarse during allergy season or after a bad cold. These episodes, an annoyance at worst, usually end in a matter of days, and vocal quality goes back to normal, as well as life.

But what if symptoms of a diminishing voice lasted for weeks, even months, until you couldn’t speak at all? What if clearing your throat, drinking tea, or sucking on medicinal lozenges didn’t do anything to relieve the breathy, strangled or constricted quality of your voice, that is, if you haven’t lost it entirely?

These conditions may indicate something more persistent and more complicated than laryngitis. They describe a chronic disorder known as spasmodic dysphonia (SD), also referred to as laryngeal dystonia, which affects 50,000 individuals in North America.1 In terms of the general population this is a miniscule size; however, it is perhaps because of the rarity of the disorder that it is largely misdiagnosed. Those who suffer from SD are often unaware of all treatment options available to them and continue for years unsuccessfully with therapists and doctors to find relief. Perhaps more disconcerting, those afflicted may have rare bouts of remission, but very seldom are able to return to their normal speaking voices.1 Continue reading

Pediatric Dysphagia: What Parents Need to Know

Pediatric dysphagia is a swallowing and feeding disorder that can affect any part of the feeding process. Oral dysphagia refers to difficulty using the mouth, tongue or lips to control food or liquid. Pharyngeal dysphagia refers to problems in the throat that impede food going into the stomach and intestines.1 While it is often caused by underlying health complications, medical conditions and disabilities, dysphagia occurs in 25% to 45% of normally developing children.2click to continue reading patient handout.

Traveling with Allergies – A Handout For Patients

Traveling with Allergies

7 Tips for Managing Seasonal Allergies on Vacation

SUMMER IS HERE, which means that school is over for the year, temperatures are climbing, and you’re clamoring to use up your vacation days somewhere sunny and fun. But before you pack your swimsuit and strap your bike to the car, have you thought about your allergies? The American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) estimates that 50 million Americans suffer from allergic rhinitis, or hay fever, characterized by the telltale symptoms of sneezing, itchy, watery eyes, a stuffy nose, and nasal congestion. Seasonal allergies can be pesky for some and debilitating for others. It’s important to understand that when you travel, you could be heading to a climate or landscape that presents a whole host of potential new allergens, even if you’ve gotten your home triggers under control. With that in mind, here are some tips that can help you avoid the pitfalls of an allergy attack when you’re on the road this summer….Click to read full article.

COPD & Nutrition

In a clinician’s office it’s not uncommon for patients to ask a doctor about the effects of certain dietary choices on their wellbeing. When it comes to medical concerns such as weight management, heart health, bone strength and the immune system, food and drink choices are often a realistic and tangible place to start if a patient is looking to make a change. However, this same correlation is not always regarded when it comes to respiratory wellness. 

“While a direct connection between food and breathing may not seem obvious, the two are part of the same metabolic process” said Deep Ramachandran, MBBS, MD, Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine physician at Genesys Regional Medical Center in Grand Blanc, Mich. According to Ramachandran there has been a recent surge in interest in this more holistic approach to respiratory heath within the medical community, as people are seeking treatment that is neither medical nor pharmacological. 

“Anything that relieves symptoms of respiratory disease, especially without side effects, make[s] it easier for patients to perform the activities of daily life” said Barbara Schuster, MSEd, RRT, director of the Clinical Education Respiratory Care program at Gwynedd Mercy University in Gwynedd Valley, Pa. 

Those with respiratory illnesses encounter a set of complications in their everyday routines that those who breathe normally do not face. An individual who suffers from COPD can burn up to 10 times as many calories just breathing compared to a normal person.1 This means that the body must draw from extra resources for energy; also, a patient in this position may be underweight and have difficulty maintaining a healthy weight. Ramachandran explained that such an individual may require calorie supplementation or an increased protein intake to gain more muscle.
Continue reading

CHEST Opens Innovation, Simulation and Training Center

CHEST Opens Innovation, Simulation and Training Center

New facility will revitalize pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicine

By Lauren Greaves

The American College of Chest Physicians (CHEST) recently relocated to its new global headquarters in Glenview, Ill., a 48,500 square foot facility that will house close to 100 professional staff. It will also be the site of an education and training facility that will put CHEST at the forefront of research, education and patient care. The facility is designed for delivering clinical education in pulmonary, critical care, and sleep medicine, according to a press release from the college. Continue reading

Stuttering: Tips for Parents

Stuttering, sometimes referred to as stammering, is a communication disorder in which the flow of speech is broken by repetitions, prolongations, or abnormal stoppages of sounds and syllables. In the United States, over three million people in the general population stutter and 5% of all children stutter for a period of 6 months or more. While the majority of children recover naturally by late childhood, stuttering becomes a long-term problem for approximately one-quarter of that group.

If you are a parent of a child who stutters, you know that everyday conversations and interactions can be challenging, often resulting in frustration for both parent and child. Maybe you don’t know what speech techniques to employ, or you don’t recognize the speaking and listening habits you use regularly that make things more difficult for your child to communicate.

Because of the problems that families face, speech-language pathologists and speech therapists have developed effective tips for parents on how to talk to your child that stutters.  These methods range from listening techniques to positive reinforcement, and they are all designed to help build up your child’s communication skills and to boost his overall confidence.

Information provided by the Stuttering Foundation. Visit

**Click to see full post.

CVS and Cigarettes

CVS Caremark recently announced that as of Oct. 1 of this year they will no longer be selling cigarettes and tobacco products at any CVS/pharmacy or Minute Clinic locations. This news came as a surprise to both the general public and the healthcare community, and while it seems like a small move in a country where one in every five adults is a cigarette smoker, it’s a big step in the right direction.

“It sends a loud message across the country,” said Michael Baumann, MD, MS, FCCP, President of the American College of Chest Physicians (CHEST).  “A pharmacy retailer stopping the sale of tobacco is a great and symbolic approach. CHEST applauds this decision.” Continue reading