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'wellness' 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 ...

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 ...

Control your blood pressure to prevent stroke

High blood pressure, also called hypertension, is a leading risk factor for stroke. Yet, more than 1 in every 3 adults in the Northwest has been diagnosed with high blood pressure.

Here are some things you can do:
  • Visit your healthcare provider:  Have your blood pressure checked at least once a year – more often if you have a history of high blood pressure, have heart disease, have diabetes, or are overweight. 
  • Get involved:  If you have high blood pressure it's important to work with your provider to improve your health.  This may include changes in diet, exercise, and medications.  Implement changes incrementally for success!
  • Know your family medical history:  If high blood pressure runs in your family, it’s important to ...

Healthy Mexican Cuisine - Muy nutritivo y delicioso!

Although most Americans celebrated the day of Mexican pride and heritage yesterday, there is no reason to stop the party. To spice up your diet, incorporating the regional dishes of Mexico can offer a range of health benefits and variety to your everyday routine. It is possible to enjoy the fresh Mexican flavors without wrecking your waistline!

Mexican cuisine is much more than the high fat, high calorie gigantic platters of food often served in American style restaurants. The land and seas of Mexico provide a plethora of fruits, vegetables, and heart healthy fishes that are important for good nutritional health.


 
A fast and easy dish you can prepare ahead of time and actually improves as it sits is ceviche. Traditionally...

What do parathyroid glands do?

Our parathyroid glands are four tiny glands that lie in our neck, just to the sides of our thyroid gland. When normal, they are the size of a grain of rice or a small flat bean.

These glands control calcium balance in our bodies. They do this by producing a hormone named parathyroid hormone (PTH). PTH acts on our bones, kidneys, and gut to keep the right amount of calcium in the right places.

When one or more of these glands become abnormal, they produce too much of this hormone (PTH). This can cause our bones to...

How to cure toenail fungus

I have been asked many times about toenail fungus and how to treat it. It is a common condition and distressing to look at, at least from the patient's perspective. There are theories abound as to the cause or causes, and I've heard of treatments from tea-tree oil soaks to surgery, but the really bedeviling part about this affliction is the generally high likelihood of recurrence no matter what you do. The medications and some of the other treatments available seem to work for a time, only to fail later on. But there may be a solution.

A curious observation is that exercise...

Hardening of the arteries is a disease for the ages

A couple of months ago the New York Times published an interesting article summarizing recent findings of researchers who performed CT scans on mummies from Egypt, Peru, the Aleutian Islands and the American Southwest. One of the striking findings was that 38 percent of Egyptian mummies and 29 percent of all other mummies had definite or probable evidence of hardening of the arteries. The incidence was higher in mummies of people of 40 years or older. The geography and diets for the mummies varied greatly and yet the rates of calcified arteries were fairly similar.

What you should know about atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries:

Hardening of the arteries (also known as atherosclerosis) is a disease that has been strongly associated with multiple risk factors. The risk factors in addition to age include smoking, diabetes, high cholesterol and hypertension. Many of these risk factors are associated with diets that are high in saturated fats or complex carbohydrates and thus to connect this study to modern times is not easy...

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