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Communication is a gift that must not be taken for granted.

Many of us tend to forget how effortless it is to speak confidently when talking to friends or family members. It could be frustrating when one tries to express their thoughts, and their vocal cords don’t play along. Stuttering and other speaking disorders make it difficult to convey even the simplest of ideas, leading to social anxiety or even depression among individuals suffering from speech disorders. 

What are Speech Disorders?

Speech disorders affect how a person produces sounds to form words, which results in voice disorders and are thus also considered speech disorders.

One of the commonly known speech disorders is stuttering. Other speech disorders are named dysarthria and Apraxia.

  • Apraxia; is a motor speech disorder. It is caused when the parts of the brain that are related to speaking get damaged.
  • Dysarthria: It is also a motor speech disorder, but it is caused when the muscles of the face, mouth, or respiratory system become weak. As a result, the patient has difficulty in moving these fascial parts; difficulty in pronunciation.

What are Other Issues that are Caused Due to Speech Impediments?

Studies also show that people suffering from speech impediments are well aware of what they want to say but face difficulty articulating their thoughts, leading to self-esteem issues, social anxiety, self-doubt, self-criticism, and depression.

Speech disorders affect adults as well as children. Early diagnosis and treatment under the supervision of a speech pathologist or an experienced ENT specialist can minimize or say these conditions.

What are the Major Causes of Speech Disorders?

There could be several possible causes of speech disorders. For instance;

  • Muscles weakness
  • Brain injuries
  • Traumatic Childhood injuries
  • Degenerative diseases
  • Autism

Or

  • Hearing loss. 

Speech impediments can thus affect a person’s self-esteem and, eventually, the overall quality of life.

What Are the Five Most Common Speech Disorders in Adults

Some of the commonly known speech disorders are as follows;

  1. Stuttering
  2. Apraxia
  3. Dysarthria
  4. Voice disorders involving the larynx (voice box)
  5. Aphasia

Stuttering and other speech illnesses make it challenging to communicate even the most straightforward ideas and thus trap patients in social isolation and depression.

Following is a brief discussion about everyday speech disorders that are observed in children and adults.

  1. Stuttering

It may be a surprise for many of us that many known and celebrated artists from the entertainment industry have experienced stuttering, to name one is James Earl Jones.

According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, stuttering usually begins in childhood and sadly can last throughout someone’s life. However, early diagnosis and consistent treatment from the experienced pathologist and an ENT specialist are vital to treating the ailment.

What Causes Stuttering?

While researchers have not stated an exact cause of stuttering, but it is believed this speech ailment is caused due to some genetic anomaly/modulation—people who stutter be likely to have someone in the family who stutter.

Some external factors can also be compounded to cause stutter.

A traumatic childhood, abuse, low self-esteem, body shaming, social embarrassment can also contribute to anxiety, which results in; tightens speech muscles and thus leads to a speech impediment.

How is Stuttering Treated?

Treatment involves working with a speech pathologist. ENT specialist and pathologists, professionals work with both adults and children to treat speech, language, and swallowing disorders.

Those who stutter work to control their speech rate and monitor breathing. As they practice these techniques, the speech will improve over time.

2. Apraxia

People having Apraxia can not produce correct sounds because they can not move their tongue and lips conveniently.

In extreme conditions, Apraxia can even render patients unable to speak at all. Apraxia patients produce made-up words or sayings. For example, they might say ”kitchen” for “chicken” and vice versa.

What are the Causes of Apraxia?

Apraxia is typically caused by dementia, stroke, brain tumors, or traumatic brain injuries.

How can Apraxia be Treated?

Just as an athlete needs to train specific muscles to respond to stimuli correctly, an ENT or a speech pathologist will work with the patient to retrain the muscles involved in their speech. This means regular exercises and repeated practice of mouth movements.

3. Dysarthria

Dysarthria is different from Apraxia, as, in Apraxia, your speech muscles are weak due to brain damage which causes speaking disabilities like imprecise or slurred speech.

What Causes Dysarthria?

As per the researches done by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, the following diseases plays a significant role in the development and triggering of dysarthria:

  • Brain tumors
  • ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease)
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Cerebral palsy

How can dysarthria be treated?

Finding the proper treatment time depends on the severity of dysarthria upon diagnosis. Speech disorder therapists might slow down your speech to help you use your breath to speak relatively clearly. Moreover, they can also help you to train the muscles in your mouth, tongue, and lips to make them stronger.

4. Voice disorders involving the larynx (voice box)

There is a range of types of disorders that are caused due to the issue with the voice box. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, some of these voice disorders could be:

  • Hoarseness

It occurs mainly among teachers and speakers, basically, those who require to speak for more extended periods. However, most of the time, it appears to be a temporary condition. At the same time, chronic hoarseness can lead to other problems.

  • Polyps or nodules on the vocal cords

Their growth on vocal cords might make it difficult for them to vibrate, affecting your speech. They can be caused by several conditions, such as allergies and smoking. However, their growth can be removed surgically, and depending on the size of their growth, and they can also be treated through medicine.

  • Spasmodic dysphonia

This occurs when your vocal folds spasm or tighten upon speaking, and due to it, sometimes you might not be able to talk at all. It is mainly caused due to problems with the nervous system or some other brain disorder. Although there is no cure for this, your local ENT physician can inject Botox into your vocal folds to loosen them up. Moreover, you can also get speech therapy sessions, which can help a lot.

  • Vocal fold paralysis

It occurs when your vocal folds are unable to move, and it not only causes speech disorders but can also affect your breathing and swallowing. They sometimes require an opening in the neck to enable you to breathe.

5. Aphasia

It is most commonly observed after a stroke, and it is a language disorder that occurs due to damage caused on the left side of your brain. It makes it difficult for you to speak, read or even understand what is being spoken.

What are the Symptoms of Aphasia?

Some of the common symptoms may include:

  • Saying the wrong words more often. For instance, speaking ‘cat’ when you meant to say ‘dog.’
  • Switching word order, instead of saying “driveway,” saying “way drive.”
  • They are increasing the use of made-up words either independently or in a sentence with actual words.

 What are Treatments for Aphasia?

Doctors adopt several different approaches for its treatment. You will have with your speech therapist, as it depends on him, what approach they prefer. This may also include learning to communicate through gestures, pictures, or computers.

Treatment for Speech Disorders is Available  

Speech pathologists and specialist ENT doctors utilize the ”team approach’’ to treat speech disorders. Whether it involves intensive speech therapy or some surgical procedures done by certified ear, nose, and throat doctors, there are multiple treatment options to treat speech disorders. You can even ask for a customized treatment plan to treat speech impediments as well.

 

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ENT in Pakistan

In Pakistan it has been observed that most of the patients that go to see a doctor mostly suffer from some sort of ENT disease. Almost everyone has had clogged ears, stuffy nose or a sore throat at some point in their life. However, this is not all that ENT specialists do, they treat a diverse range of disorders and other conditions of:

  • Ears
  • Nose
  • Throat
  • Head
  • Neck

The severity of the condition may differ from simple to severe. Therefore, it is said that ENT specialists not only treat sinus headaches, swimmers’ ears or sleep apnea, there is much more to that job.

Rather ENT specialists in Pakistan are doctors that deal with delicate procedures of:

  • Restoring hearing in the middle ear
  • Opening up blocked airways
  • Removing cancers of head, neck, throat etc.
  • Rebuild essential structures

Organized ENT practice in Pakistan started back in the year 2001 and since then there have been high standards set for it, making it a well establish branch of medical science in Pakistan, and with the recent development in technology, common folks have started getting aware of the ENT diseases, their symptoms and cautions.

Awareness of ENT in Pakistan

Pakistan is a country with diverse communities and different service development levels. Where some areas are highly developed while others not so much, therefore there is no uniform level of awareness of ENT in Pakistan.

In such a large country that is still relatively new and developing it is quite difficult to spread awareness over such massive scales with so little resources, and healthcare is often limited in the rural areas.

However, with the recent developments in the technological and medical fields people of all areas have started getting more and more aware of the common diseases their cautions and effects.

Sings & Symptoms of Ear, Nose. Throat, Head & Neck Problems

Now that we know that people are getting aware of ENT diseases, let us have a look at some common reasons, to why you should go see an ENT specialist if experienced.

Long-term Chronic Throat, Ear or Sinus Problems

Ears infections are the most common of all ENT categories, and are the most widely observed by doctors. An initial approach adopted by ENTs to treat ear diseases is the use of antibiotics, however depending on the severity of the issue or infection, a surgery may be recommended.

A common infection of tonsils is called tonsillitis, which is mostly treated with antibiotics, but if not affected, doctors prefer to perform surgery, to stop the spread of the infection.

A sinus issue that lasts longer than four months turns into a ‘chronic sinus’, with consultation from an ENT specialist you can get it treated from its core, giving you permanent relief.

Loss of Hearing

Hearing loss is common among old people, as it is a natural process that occurs with age, however sudden hearing loss can be a problem and a sign of something much more severe. In either of the cases, consulting an otolaryngologist could be the best approach that you can take, to minimize the damage and get it treated in time.

There is an important thing to know, that people often confuse an ENT specialist with an audiologist, however that is most definitely not the case. As audiologist is someone that helps with hearing aids and other medical tools designed for hearing, whereas an ENT treats the problem medically.

A Lump in Neck

Another significant sign of mouth, throat, thyroid or even blood cancer is a lump in the neck that lasts for more than days. It is important to get them checked is time as cancers that start in these particular areas often spread out to the lymph nodes in the throat.

A lump is different from a swollen lymph node. Which can also be a sign of some sever illness, but due to common diseases like strep throat or some sort of ear infection.

Heavy Snoring

Although snoring in common among adults of all ages, however in children, it could be something much more severe. However, it is recommended to first see a pediatrician and see if they recommend an ENT or not. It is important to get it looked at as it could be a sign of sleep apnea, which may lead to bone problems in the face.

Some Common Symptoms of ENT Diseases

Since we are talking about ENT awareness in Pakistan, therefore it is crucial that you also know some of the most common symptoms, for if you experience any of them, you might be able to see a specialist in time.

Below are some of the most common signs and symptoms that are experienced by patients of ENT in Pakistan:

  • Runny Nose
  • Sore Throat
  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Pain in Ear
  • Loss of Hearing
  • Heavy Snoring
  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea
  • Airway Issues
  • Difficulty Breathing with Mouth
  • Balance Problems
  • Pressure on Sinus
  • Tonsil or Adenoid Inflammation or Infection
  • Skin Conditions
  • Ear Noise (Tinnitus)
  • Skin Cancers/Lesions
  • Nose Bleeds
  • Thyroid Mass
  • Nasal Congestion/Nasal Itching and Rubbing
  • Dark Circles Under the Eyes
  • Hoarseness/Frequent Throat Clearing
  • Loss of Sense of Smell and/or taste

What Conditions do ENT Specialists Treat?

Since we are on the topic of ENT awareness in Pakistan, therefore it is also important to know what are the conditions that are treated by ENT doctors.

Generally, otolaryngologists do not limit themselves to a certain part of ENT or head are, and they can treat several type of different ENT conditions. However, some ENT doctors pursue a certain area and make it their specialty, through additional studies and extended training. These specialization areas could be any of the following:

  • Ear

Hearing and balancing are crucial in our daily lives as they affect how we conduct our daily life affairs. There are ENT doctors that specialize in treating conditions of ears, such as:

  • Ear Infection
  • Hearing Loss
  • Frequent Dizziness
  • Ringing in Ears
  • Pain in Ears, Face or Neck
  • Nose 

Nose plays an important role in keeping harmful dirt, allergies and other different types of bacteria, out when we breathe, therefore, it is important for the nose to be able to function properly. Therefore, there are doctors of ENT who specifically treat nose diseases and issues, such as:

  • Allergies
  • Deviated Septum
  • Rhinitis
  • Sinusitis
  • Sinus Headaches
  • Migraines
  • Nasal Obstruction
  • Nasal Surgeries
  • Skull-bases Tumors
  • Throat 

Throat disorders are the ones that affect our ability to speak and swallow properly, which can have severe impact on daily lives and how we live. ENT doctors that specializes in treating throat conditions, often come across the following throat diseases:

  • Sore Throat
  • Hoarseness
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Throat Infections
  • Tumors is Throat
  • Airway Disorders
  • Vocal Cord Disorders

Now this was all on the ENT and its awareness in Pakistan. We are sure that this will help you in better understanding these diseases and what are the conditions that if experienced, could be a sign of some sort of ENT issue, which can help you get timely treatment . For appointment