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Ask the Medical Expert Archives 2000-2004

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Swallowing and Talking Problems
September 2000

Q. I have been suffering through swallowing and talking problems for almost a year now. I recently had my tonsils taken out, which improved my ability to swallow. On the other hand, my adenoids (the doctor found nothing wrong with them) were left in for fear that my voice would get worse. I've read that shortness of breath and muffled speech are indicators of adenoid problems, which are exactly my symptoms. The doctor told me adenoids aren't the cause of this. If I'm on the right track, could you please help me bring some information to my HMO? I want to live a normal life.

A. Unfortunately, there is little I can do to influence your HMO. Your doctor has examined you and your adenoids and finds them not to be a problem. How can this be, you might ask, since your symptoms go along with an adenoid problem? Well, any one problem can be caused by many things.

Let's assume you walk into the room, flip the light switch and nothing happens. What's the cause? You go to a book and find that a burned out light bulb will cause this to occur. That doesn't mean the light bulb is burned out. It could be a wire is loose, the switch is bad, the circuit breaker cut the circuit, there is a power failure, etc. Heck, you may not have flipped the right switch.

The same goes for the body. Maybe your shortness of breath and muffled speech is caused by adenoids (while I can't say it is, I also can't say it is not). It could be due to a deviated septum, narrowing the air passage in your nose. There might be something else going on.

The best thing to do is to go back to the doctor with your complaint. If the doctor can't help you, ask for a referral. Or find another doctor. Good luck.

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