May 2013
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May 2013 posts

What is Muscle Tension Dysphonia (MTD)?

Muscle tension dysphonia (MTD) is one of the more confounding and misunderstood conditions of the voice.  With this condition the vocal cords and supporting structures may be healthy but they are working too hard.  MTD is caused by the throat muscles being too tight and out of balance with the rest of the voice production system.  The person with MTD may feel that it takes more effort to talk and their voice gets worse the more they talk.  Many patients may feel a soreness of their neck, throat and often their shoulders. Sometimes MTD may develop in trying to compensate for a weak vocal fold or a vocal fold lesion.

MTD is characterized by the following:

  • Voice that sounds rough, hoarse, gravely, or raspy
  • Voice that sounds weak, breathy, airy, or is only a whisper
  • Voice that sounds strained, pressed, squeezed, tight, or tense
  • Voice that suddenly cuts out, breaks off, changes pitch, or fades away
  • Voice that “gives out” or becomes weaker the longer the voice is used
  • Pitch that is too high or too low
  • Difficulty singing notes that used to be easy
  • Pain or tension in the throat when speaking or singing
  • Feeling like the throat is tired when speaking or singing
  • Voice that may sound normal sometimes, such as during laughing or coughing

Once an otolaryngologist has examined you and diagnosed you with MTD, you will typically be referred to a speech pathologist for voice therapy.  In some cases there may be some underlying physical or emotional stress contributing to the dysphonia.  Our voices are very emotional instruments and help to convey a spectrum of emotions including happiness, sadness and anger.  “I’m all choked up” is more than just a figure of speech.  As such, you may ...

Don't put that in your mouth

Most parents have experienced a child swallowing something that was not intended to be put in the mouth. Most of the time it turns out to be okay, but not always.  It is always a good idea to check in with your doctor or Poison Control (800-222-1222).

When to worry and what to do if your child swallows...

 

Detergent pods – such as Tide or Cascade
These packets may look like candy but can cause lots of problems, and symptoms may be delayed for 1-3 days: 

  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and stomach aches. 
  • Burns to the mouth, throat, esophagus and stomach. 
  • Scarring or perforation of the esophagus and stomach. 
  • Burns to the cornea of the eye.

Magnets

  • New “rare earth” magnets such as Buckyballs have stronger attractive properties
  • Attraction across ....

The Leo Project: Announcing the Swedish MS Center's new pet therapy program

The Multiple Sclerosis Center at Swedish is pleased to present the Leo Project, the first outpatient pet therapy program in the Puget Sound region. The Leo Project brings trained dogs and volunteers to the MS Center once per week.

Ocho and her owner Kathy will be coming to the Swedish MS Center every Wednesday from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. beginning this week! They’ll be available for visits in the Hedreen Wellness Studio (just inside the MS Center) for part of their time, and circulating through the lobby and physical therapy gym.

Our goal for the Leo Project is to ...

Hearing loss in the workplace

Hearing loss is a term that many associate with an aging population. For some it may trigger memories of large, obvious and obtrusive hearing aids or devices that squealed!  This is not the reality in 2013.  A look at the individuals I see every day as an audiologist reveals a large number of employed professionals who are encountering difficulty in work environments.  From telephone work to conference and lunch meetings, hearing loss is impacting our workforce.

The National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) estimates that nearly 1 in 5 Americans between the ages of 45-64 years of age experience hearing loss.  The prevalence of hearing loss increases with age and with an aging workforce that includes many working well into their 70s, it should be noted that the incidence of hearing loss increases to 1 in 3 for Americans between the ages of 65-74 years of age.  We now have a culture of employment that includes unique viewpoints from four generations working side by side.   Many of us are aware that intergenerational communication styles may vary.  It would behoove us to also consider hearing loss as we think about intergenerational communication in the workplace. 

Individuals who work in a quiet or solitary environment may “get by” with their hearing loss. However, most individuals will encounter much more complex listening environments at work. Imagine if you had hearing loss and were required to listen in the following environments:

  • Working in a cubicle environment where colleagues speak from behind or speak over/through walls.
  • Participating in conference calls and telephone calls in which there are no visual cues to supplement the speaker’s voice.
  • Participating in conference room meetings where distance can create a barrier in the ability to hear individuals around the table.
  • Listening to individuals with ...

Child’s Belly Discomfort Caused By Allergies

This is one of the most common questions that I get asked in the office. Allergic diseases are certainly becoming more and more prevalent in the developed world. General pediatricians and specialists are on ‘high-alert’ for this when evaluating a child that may be sick. Within the realm of intestinal diseases, however, a true allergy is actually not very common. To understand this, we must first understand what ‘allergy’ means.

An allergy is a biologic response from our body’s immune system. When our body senses a foreign invader, our army of immune cells attacks it. It does this by releasing chemicals into the blood stream and/or in to the organs where the threat may lie. Those chemicals are meant to destroy the invader, but often hurt our healthy organs as well. For example, airborn pollen may land in your eye, the immune system senses that pollen, releases those chemicals, and as a consequence we get itchy, puffy, watery eyes. The same thing can happen in the bowel if we ingest food that we are allergic to.

Intestinal manifestations of food allergies

One of the more common sites of an allergic response to food is in the esophagus—the food pipe. When the esophagus gets inflamed, it can manifest in a few different ways: heartburn symptoms, chest pain, chronic dry cough, upper abdominal pain, frequent regurgitation, or food that is stuck the chest. The name of this is Eosinophilic Esophagitis. Food allergies lower in the bowels can cause diarrhea, blood in the stool, abdominal pain, weight loss, anemia, and fatigue.

There are usually other red flags

One of the most important things to remember is ....

Living with stroke - resources and support

If your life has been touched by stroke, one of the greatest resources you can connect with is your local stroke support group. 

There are many benefits of joining a stroke support group, including the opportunity to:

  • Socialize in a relaxed environment – feeling connected to a community is incredibly important after a stroke.  Isolation can be a significant contributor to depression and deteriorating condition.
  • Share your stories, setbacks, and achievements – the connections you establish within a stroke support group are great resources for encouragement and advice.  These relationships are also important in challenging you to push forward, continuing to work towards complete recovery.
  • Learn something new – education provided at stroke support group events can be priceless!  There is an incredible amount of information regarding navigating life after stroke and this is a wonderful venue to hear information and ask questions.  Common topics of discussion include:

What is Pilonidal Disease?

Pilonidal disease is a subcutaneous skin infection that occurs in the upper half of the gluteal cleft (the tailbone area, and/or between the buttocks). 

Etiology

The term “Pilonidal” means nest of hairs.  Interestingly, in 50% of reported cases, there was not any hair found within the pilonidal abscess.  This is routinely the case for females.  Although hair can contribute, the most common cause of pilonidal disease is an exploded follicle called a pit, which is located in the gluteal cleft, or midline region (between the buttocks). 

Who is at risk for Pilonidal disease?

Pilonidal disease is only slightly more common in men than women, and is most likely to occur between the ages of 16 – 26, correlating with puberty.  It should be noted that pilonidal disease can develop in younger and older age groups.  Pilonidal disease occurs less in Asian and black populations.  Other risk factors of pilonidal disease include:

  • Obesity
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Individuals with more body hair
  • Occupations with prolonged sitting

Diagnosing Pilonidal Disease

Pilonidal disease, similar to a large pimple, can burst through the skin by itself or may need to be lanced or drained to let the infected fluid escape.  Pilonidal disease is classified into three stages:

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