Health Tips for Seniors

Diseases of Pharynx – Cancer, Halitosis, and Coughing

Cancer of the Pharynx. Malignant growth, especially cancer, often occurs in the pharynx, base of the tongue and the vocal cords. Unfortunately this area cannot be seen without the aid of special mirrors and lighting arrangements. The features arousing suspicions of such difficulties are hoarseness of a constant nature, pain, and bleeding, which may occur together or separately and in variable degrees. After fifty years of age, coughing of blood and a soreness in the throat, of more than ten days’ duration, should arouse suspicion. Hoarseness is a very common difficulty at all ages and is no cause for alarm following brief periods of sore throat or upper respiratory infection. However, a persistent hoarseness of several weeks or more in a person of fifty years or older, should prompt suspicion of serious vocal cord disease, including cancer.

There are other growths in this region, such as polyps, cysts and plain irritations, all of which are easily treated by the physician, but the possibility of cancerous disease in the pharynx region, demands early diagnosis, if effective cure is to be expected.

Halitosis (Bad Breath) – This difficulty concerns everyone, and can be very offensive and embarrassing. The problem is exaggerated by widely publicized advertising, but nevertheless, halitosis is a very real problem everywhere.

Prevention of offensive breath is mostly a matter of effective oral hygiene. This includes cleaning the mouth and teeth after each meal, at least to the point of rinsing the mouth well. Unusually persistent cases, however, warrant a physician’s help in determining the cause. Investigation may uncover disease possibilities within the mouth, nose or sinus region, as well as lungs or bronchial tubes.

Coughing. A cough is usually due to irritation of the larynx or vocal cords by colds or infections in this area. The irritation may be described as a tickling, or as a rasping soreness. It may be temporary and respond to various gargles and rest, or the cough may persist for long periods. When copious amounts of sputum are produced with coughing, the most probable site of difficulty is in the lungs, whereas, the cough originating in the larynx is usually described as a dry and hacking cough.


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