Otolaryngology Glossary A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

ABR: Auditory Brainstem Response test (see below)

Acoustic neuroma: A tumor, usually benign, which may develop on the hearing and balance nerves and can cause gradual hearing loss, tinnitus, and/or dizziness.

Anemia: A condition in which the blood is deficient in red blood cells, in hemoglobin, or in total volume.

Acquired deafness: loss of hearing that occurs or develops some time during the lifespan but is not present at birth.

Adenoid: Lymphoid tissue located behind the nose.

Adjuvant: Therapy given after the main therapy in order to improve the chance of success, such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy given after surgery.

Ageusia: Loss of the sense of taste.

Albinism: Lack of normal pigment in the skin, eyes, and hair.

Alport Syndrome: A hereditary condition characterized by kidney disease, sensorineural hearing loss, and sometimes eye defects.

American Sign Language: The manual language with its own syntax and grammar, used primarily by people who are deaf.

Ankyloglossia: A foreshortened or tethered lingual frenulum commonly known as "tongue-tie" in which the tongue is tethered to the floor of mouth.

Anosmia: The absence of the sense of smell.

Aphasia: The total or partial loss of the ability to use or understand language; usually caused by stroke (Read about "Stroke") brain disease, or injury.

Aphonia: The complete loss of voice.

Apraxia: The inability to execute a voluntary movement despite being able to demonstrate normal muscle function.

Articulation disorder: The inability to correctly produce speech sounds (phonemes) because of imprecise placement, timing, pressure, speed, or flow of movement of the lips, tongue, or throat.

ASL: American Sign Language (see above)

Assistive devices: Technical tools and devices such as alphabet boards, text telephones, or text-to-speech conversion software used to aid individuals who have communication disorders perform actions, tasks, and activities.

Aspiration: Using a needle to remove fluid or cells from an area of the body.

Anxiety: A debilitating condition of fear, which interferes with normal life functions.

Audiogram: Hearing test.

Audiologist: A health care professional who is trained to evaluate hearing loss and related disorders, including balance (vestibular) and tinnitus, and to rehabilitate individuals with hearing loss and related disorders. An audiologist uses a variety of tests and procedures to assess hearing and balance function and to fit and dispense hearing aids and other assistive devices for hearing.

Auditory Brainstem Response test: A test for brain functioning in comatose, unresponsive, etc., patients, and for hearing in infants and young children; involves attaching electrodes to the head to record electrical activity from the hearing nerve and other parts of the brain.

Auditory nerve: The eighth cranial nerve that connects the inner ear to the brainstem and is responsible for hearing and balance.

Auditory perception: The ability to identify, interpret, and attach meaning to sound.

Auditory prosthesis: A device that substitutes or enhances the ability to hear.

Augmentative devices: Tools that help individuals with limited or absent speech to communicate, such as communication boards, pictographs (symbols that look like the things they represent), or ideographs (symbols representing ideas).

Aural rehabilitation: Techniques used with people who are hearing impaired to improve their ability to speak and communicate.

Autoimmune deafness: Occurs when an individual"s immune system produces abnormal antibodies that react against the body"s healthy tissues, including the inner ear.

Autism: A brain disorder that begins in early childhood and persists throughout adulthood; affects three crucial areas of development: communication, social interaction, and creative or imaginative play. (Read about Autism in "Pervasive Developmental Disorders" "Child Development")

Autologous: Derived from the same individual.

B Balance: The biological system that enables individuals to know where their bodies are in the environment and to maintain a desired position. Normal balance depends on information from the labyrinth in the inner ear, from other senses such as sight and touch, and from muscle movement.

Balance disorder: Disruption in the labyrinth, the inner ear organ that controls the balance system, which allows individuals to know where their bodies are in the environment. The labyrinth works with other systems in the body, such as the visual and skeletal systems, to maintain posture.

Barotrauma: Injury to the middle ear caused by a reduction of air pressure.

Brainstem Implant: An auditory prosthesis that bypasses the cochlea and auditory nerve. This type of implant helps individuals who cannot benefit from a cochlear implant because the auditory nerves are not working.

Branchial: A term used to describe cysts or sinus tracts that are derived from indentations in the fetus. The word means pertaining to, or resembling, gills of a fish. There are typically four possible branchial anomalies in children that start up near the ear and end down near the collarbone.

Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo: A balance disorder that results in sudden onset of dizziness, spinning, or vertigo when moving the head.

Benign tumor: A tumor that is not malignant; it is not a cancer.

Bilateral: A term describing a condition that affects both sides of the body or two paired organs, such as tonsils.

Blepharospasm: A movement disorder involving excessive eye blinking.

BPPV: Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (see above).

C Captioning: A text display of spoken words, presented on a television or a movie screen that allows a deaf or hard-of-hearing viewer to follow the dialogue and the action of a program simultaneously.

Central auditory processing disorder: An inability to differentiate, recognize or understand sounds; hearing and intelligence are normal.

Cerebrovascular accident: Lack of blood to the brain, resulting in the sudden loss of speech, language, or the ability to move a body part and, if severe enough, death. Also known as stroke.

Cerumen: Earwax.

Chemosensory disorders: Diseases or problems associated with the sense of smell or the sense of taste.

Choanal atresia: A birth defect in which there is no opening in the back of the nose to connect it to the breathing tube. Babies with this problem are unable to breathe through their noses.

Cholesteatoma: Skin (epithelium) growing in areas it does not belong, can be destructive due to enzymes produced by the skin and pressure necrosis. Commonly used to refer to skin growing in the middle ear and mastoid, causing significant infection and erosion.

Cilia: Small hairs that move mucous in the nose, sinus and windpipe.

Cleft palate: A birth defect resulting in opening in the roof of the mouth that may or may not involve the upper lip and/or nose.

Cochlea: A snail-shaped structure in the inner ear, which is the essential organ of hearing. This tube is filled with tiny hair cells, which help transmit sound into the brain.

Cochlear implants: An electronic device that restores partial hearing to the deaf. It is surgically implanted in the inner ear and activated by a device worn outside the ear. It bypasses damaged structures in the inner ear and directly stimulates the auditory nerve, allowing some deaf individuals to learn to hear and interpret sounds and speech.

Cognition: Thinking skills that include perception, memory, awareness, reasoning, judgment, intellect, and imagination.

Conductive Hearing Impairment: Hearing loss caused by dysfunction of the outer or middle ear.

Continuous positive airway pressure: A device that fits on the face and delivers air under pressure in order to keep the airway open, usually worn at bed time by individuals with obstructive sleep apnea.

CPAP: continuous positive airway pressure (see above).

Cued speech: A method of communication that combines speech reading with a system of hand shapes placed near the mouth to help deaf or hard-of-hearing individuals differentiate words that look similar on the lips (e.g., bunch vs. punch) or are hidden (e.g., gag).

Culture: Growth of microorganisms or viruses for identification purposes.

CVA: Cerebrovascular accident (see above)

Cyst: A lump filled with either fluid or soft material, occurring in any organ or tissue; may occur for a number of reasons but is usually harmless unless its presence disrupts organ or tissue function.

Cytomegalovirus (congenital): One group of herpes viruses that infects humans and can cause a variety of clinical symptoms, including deafness or hearing impairment; infection with the virus may be either before or after birth.

D Decibel: The unit that measures the intensity or loudness of sound.

Dermoid: A cyst which may be found associated with the nose, eyebrow or neck which sometimes has connections into the brain. This cyst and its possible tract are formed during fetal development.

Deviated septum: Leaning of the septum to one side or the other of the nose; may create blockage of a nostril.

Dizziness: Physical unsteadiness, imbalance, and lightheadedness associated with balance disorders.

Dysarthria: A group of speech disorders caused by disturbances in the strength or coordination of the muscles of the speech mechanism as a result of damage to the brain or nerves.

Dysequilibrium: Any disturbance of balance. (Read about "Balance Disorders")

Dysfluency: Disruption in the smooth flow or expression of speech.

Dysgeusia: Distortion or absence of the sense of taste.

Dyslexia: Learning disability characterized by reading difficulties. Some individuals may also have difficulty writing, spelling, or working with numbers.

Dysosmia: Distortion or absence of the sense of smell.

Dysphagia: Difficulty swallowing.

Dysphonia - any impairment of the voice or speaking ability.

Dyspraxia of Speech: Partial loss of the ability to consistently pronounce words in individuals with normal muscle tone and speech muscle coordination.

Dystonia: Abnormal muscle tone of one or more muscles.

E Ear drum: A translucent, fibrous drum which separates the external ear canal from the middle ear and is directly attached to the ear bones (ossicles). This structure helps conduct sound waves to mechanical energy that results in stimulation of the inner ear.

Ear infection: The presence and growth of bacteria or viruses in the ear.

Ear wax: A yellow secretion from glands in the outer ear (cerumen) that keeps the skin of the ear dry and protected from infection.

Electronystagmogram: A test of the vestibular system, which is used to help diagnose balance problems.

Endolymph: The fluid in thelabyrinth (the organ of balance located in the inner ear that consists of three semicircular canals and the vestibule).

Endoscopic sinus surgery: Looking into the sinuses and performing procedures on the sinuses by placing flexible telescopes through the nose.

Endoscopy: Surgery using a telescope to visualize internal organ through a small incision. Generally less invasive than traditional surgeries and requiring a shorter recovery period.

ENG: Electronystagmogram (see above)

Epiglottis: A small flap-like valve made of cartilage that closes over the voice box (larynx) during swallowing so that food goes down the esophagus.

Epistaxis: Nosebleed.

Esophagus: Swallowing tube made of muscle that connects the throat with the stomach.

ESS: Endoscopic sinus surgery (see above).

Ethmoid: Sinuses located between the eyes.

Eustacian tube: The tube connecting the middle ear to the throat.

External otitis: Infection of the external ear canal commonly known as "swimmer"s ear."

F Fine needle aspirate: Using a needle to remove cells from a tumor to examine under a microscope in order to determine the type of tumor.

FNA: Fine needle aspirate (see above).

Frenulum: The membrane of tissue connecting the middle of the tongue to the floor of the mouth.

Frontal: Sinuses located in the forehead, usually of differing sizes and different amounts of development.

G Gastric pull-up: Using part of the stomach to replace the swallowing tube when it has been removed, usually due to cancer.

Gastroesophageal reflux: Backup of fluid from the stomach into the swallowing tube causing heartburn and possible long-term damage to the swallowing tube. Also called gastroesophageal reflux disease.

Gastrostomy: A tube that goes directly into the stomach through the skin of the abdomen that allows nutritious fluid to be given to a person who is unable to eat enough food to keep them healthy.

GE reflux: Gastroesophageal reflux (see above)

GERD: Gastroesophageal reflux disease (see above)

Gustation: The act or sensation of tasting.

H Hair cells: The sensory cells of the inner ear, which are topped with hair-like structures, the stereocilia, and which transform the mechanical energy of sound waves into nerve impulses.

Haptic sense: The sense of physical contact or touch.

Haptometer: An instrument for measuring sensitivity to touch.

Hearing: A series of events in which sound waves in the air are converted to electrical signals, which are sent as nerve impulses to the brain, where they are interpreted.

Hearing aid: An electronic device that brings amplified sound to the ear. A hearing aid usually consists of a microphone, amplifier, and receiver.

Hearing disorder: Disruption in the normal hearing process that may occur in the outer, middle or inner ear, whereby sound waves are not converted to electrical signals and nerve impulses are not transmitted to the brain to be interpreted.

Hereditary hearing impairment: Hearing loss passed down through generations of a family.

Hoarseness: An abnormally rough or harsh-sounding voice caused by vocal abuse and other disorders such as gastroesophageal reflux thyroid problems or trauma to the larynx (voice box).

Hyoid: A bone in the neck suspended between muscles that help produce the swallowing motion.

Hyperplasia: Excessive growth of normal cells of an organ.

Hypogeusia: Diminished sensitivity to taste.

Hyposmia: Diminished sensitivity to smell.

IJK Incus: Middle ear bone between the malleus and the stapes, commonly referred to as the "anvil."

Inner ear: The part of the ear that contains both the organ of hearing (the cochlea) and the organ of balance (the labyrinth).

Kallmann"s Syndrome: A disorder that can include several characteristics such as absence of the sense of smell and decreased functional activity of the gonads (organs that produce sex cells), affecting growth and sexual development.

L Labyrinth: The organ of balance located in the inner ear. The labyrinth consists of three semicircular canals and the vestibule.

Labyrinthine hydrops: Excessive fluid in the organ of balance (labyrinth); can cause pressure or fullness in the ears, hearing loss, dizziness, and loss of balance.

Labyrinthitis: Viral or bacterial infection or inflammation of the inner ear that can cause dizziness, loss of balance, and temporary hearing loss.

Landau-Kleffner Syndrome: A childhood disorder of unknown origin, which often extends into adulthood and can be identified by gradual or sudden loss of the ability to understand and use spoken language.

Language: A system for communicating ideas and feelings using sounds, gestures, signs, or marks.

Language disorders: Any of a number of problems with verbal communication and the ability to use or understand a symbol system for communication.

Laryngeal neoplasms: Abnormal growths in the larynx (voice box) that can be cancerous or noncancerous.

Laryngeal nodules: Noncancerous, callous-like growths on the inner parts of the vocal folds (vocal cords); usually caused by vocal abuse or misuse.

Laryngeal paralysis: Loss of function or feeling of one or both of the vocal folds caused by injury or disease to the nerves of the larynx.

Laryngectomy: Surgery to remove part or all of the larynx (voice box).

Laryngitis: A hoarse voice or the complete loss of the voice because of irritation to the vocal folds (vocal cords).

Laryngomalacia: A term used to describe floppiness of the valves over the voice box that creates a noise as the child breathes in which is usually high-pitched and is especially heard during feeding.

Laryngoscopy: Looking into the larynx with a lighted telescope.

Larynx: A term used to identify the voice box, which contains the vocal cords and structures which help produce sound. This structure also separates the airway from the breathing tube while swallowing by closing. Voice or other sounds are produced when the vocal cords meet in the middle.

Laser assisted uvulopalatoplasty: Narrowing of the palate and removal of the uvula with laser energy to decrease snoring and sleep apnea.

LAUP: Laser assisted uvulopalatoplasty (see above)

Learning disabilities: Childhood disorders characterized by difficulty with certain skills such as reading or writing in individuals with normal intelligence.

Lymph node dissection: Removal of the lymph glands in the area near a tumor in order to determine if they are involved with cancer and to remove any cancer located within them.

Lymphadenectomy: Removal of the lymph glands in the area near a tumor in order to determine if they are involved with cancer and to remove any cancer located within them.

Lymphadenopathy: Enlargement of lymph nodes usually associated with inflammation or infection, commonly known as "swollen glands."

M Malleus: The ear bone that directly connects the other ossicles to the tympanic membrane, also commonly referred to as the "hammer" bone.

Mandible: The “jaw bone” to which the lower teeth are attached.

Maxilla: The bone to which the upper teeth are attached.

Maxillary sinuses: Sinuses located behind the cheeks.

Mastoid: The skull bone behind the ear.

Mastoidectomy: Creating an opening and removing infected bone caused by severe, advanced ear infection.

Mastoiditis: Infection of the mastoid bone due to severe, advanced ear infection.

Meige Syndrome: A movement disorder that can involve excessive eye blinking (blepharospasm) with involuntary movements of the jaw muscles, lips, and tongue (oromandibular dystonia).

M�ni�re"s Disease: An inner ear disorder that can affect both hearing and balance. It can cause episodes of vertigo, hearing loss, tinnitus, and the sensation of fullness in the ear.

Meningitis: Inflammation of the meninges, the membranes that envelop the brain and the spinal cord; may cause hearing loss or deafness.

Metastasis: Malignant growths that came from a cancer elsewhere in the body.

Metastatic: A tumor that has spread to one or more parts of the body.

Middle Ear: Part of the ear that includes the eardrum and three tiny bones of the middle ear, ending at the round window that leads to the inner ear.

Misarticulation: Inaccurately produced speech sound (phoneme) or sounds.

Motion Sickness: Dizziness, sweating, nausea, vomiting, and generalized discomfort experienced when an individual is in motion.

Motor Speech Disorders: Group of disorders caused by the inability to accurately produce speech sounds (phonemes) because of muscle weakness or incoordination or difficulty performing voluntary muscle movements.

N Nasopharyngoscopy: Looking into the nose and throat and inspecting the vocal cords using a flexible telescope.

Neck dissection: Removal of the lymph glands and some of the muscles on one side of the neck in order to determine if they are involved with cancer and to remove any cancer located within them.

Neoadjuvant: Therapy given before the main therapy in order to improve the chance of success, such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy given before surgery.

Neuropraxia: Temporary decrease of nerve function.

Neural plasticity: The ability of the brain and/or certain parts of the nervous system to adapt to new conditions, such as an injury.

Neural prostheses: The devices that substitute for an injured or diseased part of the nervous system, such as the cochlear implant.

Neural stimulation: To activate or energize a nerve through an external source.

Neurofibromatosis Type 1 (NF-1 von Recklinghausen"s): A group of inherited disorders in which noncancerous tumors grow on several nerves that may include the hearing nerve. The symptoms of NF-1 include coffee-colored spots on the skin, enlargement or deformation of bones and neurofibromas.

Neurofibromatosis Type 2 (NF-2): A group of inherited disorders in which noncancerous tumors grow on several nerves that usually include the hearing nerve. The symptoms of NF-2 include tumors on the hearing nerve which can affect hearing and balance. NF-2 may occur in the teenage years with hearing loss.

Neurogenic communication disorder: The inability to exchange information with others because of hearing, speech, and/or language problems caused by impairment of the nervous system (brain or nerves).

Node dissection: Removal of the lymph glands in the area near a tumor in order to determine if they are involved with cancer and to remove any cancer located within them.

Noise-Induced Hearing Loss: Hearing loss caused by exposure to harmful sounds, either very loud impulse sound(s) or repeated exposure to sounds over 90 decibel levels over an extended period of time that damage the sensitive structures of the inner ear.

Nonsyndromic Hereditary Hearing Impairment: Hearing loss or deafness that is inherited and is not associated with other inherited clinical characteristics.

O Obstructive sleep apnea: Obstruction of breathing by the palate, tongue and/or nose during sleep.

OCR: Ossicular chain reconstruction (see below).

Odorant: A substance that stimulates the sense of smell.

Olfaction: The act of smelling.

Olfactometer: A device for estimating the intensity of the sense of smell.

Open-set speech recognition: Understanding speech without visual clues (speech reading).

Oromandibular dystonia: Involuntary movements of the jaw muscles, lips, and tongue.

OSA: Obstructive sleep apnea (see above).

Ossicle: A general term for any of the three ear bones.

Ossicular chain reconstruction: Removal of the damaged ear bones and replacement with artificial bones.

Otitis media: Infection of the middle ear, the area behind the eardrums.

Otitis externa: Inflammation of the outer part of the ear extending to the auditory canal, commonly called “swimmer"s ear.”

Otoacoustic emissions: Low-intensity sounds produced by the inner ear that can be quickly measured with a sensitive microphone placed in the ear canal.

Otolaryngologist: A physician/surgeon who specializes in diseases of the ears, nose, throat, and head and neck.

Otologist: A physician/surgeon who specializes in diseases of the ear.

Otoplasty: Surgery to improve the appearance of the ears, usually attaching the ears more closely to the head when they stick out more than the person would like or if they are uneven.

Otorrhea: Discharge from the ear.

Otosclerosis: Abnormal growth of bone causing fixation of the ear bones in the middle ear, typically involving the stapes or "stirrup" bone. This prevents structures within the ear from working properly and causes hearing loss. For some people with otosclerosis, the hearing loss may become severe. This condition may involve the cochlea causing nerve hearing loss.

Ototoxic drugs: Drugs such as a special class of antibiotics, aminoglycoside antibiotics, that can damage the hearing and balance organs located in the inner ear for some individuals.

Outer ear: The external portion of the ear, consisting of the pinna, or auricle, and the ear canal.

P Palate: Roof of the mouth.

Panendoscopy: Using telescopes to look in the nose, mouth, throat, and larynx.

Panorex: An x-ray study in which the x-ray machine moves around the head in order to show the mandible and maxilla as well as all of the teeth.

Papillomavirus: Group of viruses that can cause noncancerous wartlike tumors to grow on the surface of skin and internal organs such as the respiratory tract; can be life-threatening.

Parathyroid: Tiny glands located in the neck, which produce a hormone known as parathyroid hormone that regulates the level of calcium in the blood. There are usually two glands on each side of the neck behind the thyroid but they may be in other locations in the neck and even in the chest.

Parathyroid hormone: A hormone produced by the parathyroid gland when the level of calcium in the blood gets low. Disorders of the parathyroid result in excessive production of parathyroid hormone and high levels of calcium in the blood.

Parathyroidectomy: Removal of one or more of the parathyroid glands.

Paresis: Partial paralysis, may be temporary

Parosmia: Any disease or perversion of the sense of smell, especially the subjective perception of odors that do not exist.

Parotid: One of the three major salivary glands that supply saliva to the mouth. These glands are located in front of the ears on both sides of the face and produce mucous that travels through a glands and empties into the mouth just opposite the upper teeth on each side. These glands swell up when a patient has viral infections (i.e. mumps).

Parotidectomy: Removal of part or all of the parotid gland.

Perception (hearing): The process of knowing or being aware of information through the ear.

Perilymph: Fluid in the balance-controlling portion of the middle ear that flows with changing direction of the head, helping to maintain balance.

Perilymph Fistula - leakage of inner ear fluid to the middle ear that occurs without apparent cause or that is associated with head trauma, physical exertion, or barotrauma.

Pervasive developmental disorders: Disorders characterized by delays in several areas of development that may include socialization and communication.

Pheromones: Chemical substances secreted by an animal that elicit a specific behavioral or physiological response in another animal of the same species.

Phonology: The study of speech sounds.

Postlingually deafened: An individual who becomes deaf after having acquired language.

Prelingually deafened: An individual who is either born deaf or who lost his or her hearing early in childhood, before acquiring language.

Presbycusis: The loss of hearing that gradually occurs because of changes in the inner or middle ear in individuals as they grow older.

Primary tumor: The part of the body or organ where the cancer started to grow first.

PTH: Parathyroid hormone (see above).

QR Reading disorders: Any of a group of problems characterized by difficulty using or understanding the symbol system for written language.

Reflux: Backup of fluid from one cavity into the cavity where the fluid originally came from, such as fluid from the stomach into the swallowing tube causing heartburn.

Rhinitis: Inflammation of the nasal lining which can be caused by infection, allergies, foreign body, abnormal nerve input, or other inflammatory agents.

Rhinoplasty: Surgery to improve the appearance of the nose.

Rhinorrhea: Discharge from the nose.

Round window: The membrane separating the middle ear and inner ear.


Salivary glands: Glands are found in and around the mouth and throat. The major salivary glands are the parotid, submandibular, and sublingual glands. They all secrete saliva into your mouth, the parotid through tubes that drain saliva, called salivary ducts, near your upper teeth, submandibular under your tongue, and the sublingual through many ducts in the floor of your mouth.

Sensorineural hearing loss: Hearing loss caused by damage to the sensory cells and/or nerve fibers of the inner ear.

Septal deviation: Leaning of the septum to one side or the other of the nose; may create blockage of a nostril.

Septum: The cartilage and skin that separates the two nostrils.

Septoplasty: Reconstruction of the septum to correct septal deviation.

Sign language: A method of communication for people who are deaf or hard of hearing in which hand movements, gestures and facial expressions convey grammatical structure and meaning.

Sinus: A connection from one cavity to another or a cavity that is connected to another cavity; usually refers to the air spaces in the skull that connect to the back of the nose.

Sinusitis: Infection involving one or more of the sinuses.

SLI: Specific Language Impairment (see below).

Sleep apnea: Obstruction of breathing by the palate, tongue and/or nose during sleep; also called obstructive sleep apnea.

Smell: To perceive odor or scent through stimuli affecting the olfactory nerves.

Smell disorder: The inability to perceive odors. It may be temporary, caused by a head cold or swelling or blockage of the nasal passages. It can be permanent when any part of the olfactory region is damaged by factors such as brain injury, tumor, disease, or chronic rhinitis.

Somnoplasty: Narrowing of the palate with radiofrequency energy to decrease snoring and sleep apnea.

Sound vocalization: The ability to produce voice.

Spasmodic dysphonia: The momentary disruption of voice caused by involuntary movements of one or more muscles of the larynx or voice box.

Specific Language Impairment: Difficulty with language or the organized-symbol-system used for communication in the absence of problems such as mental retardation, hearing loss, or emotional disorders.

Speech: Spoken communication.

Speech disorder: Any defect or abnormality that prevents an individual from communicating by means of spoken words. Speech disorders may develop from nerve injury to the brain muscular paralysis, structural defects, hysteria, or mental retardation.

Speech processor: Part of a cochlear implant that converts speech sounds into electrical impulses to stimulate the auditory nerve, allowing an individual to understand sound and speech.

Speech-Language Pathologist: A health professional trained to evaluate and treat people who have voice, speech, language, or swallowing disorders (including hearing impairment) that affect their ability to communicate.

Sphenoid: Sinuses located behind the nose.

Stapes: Smallest of the three middle ear bones that connect the tympanic membrane with the inner ear. Commonly referred to as the "stirrup" bone.

Stapedectomy: Removal of the stapes bone when it is not functioning, and replacing it with an artificial stapes.

Stridor: A term used to describe noisy breathing associated with inflammation or narrowing of the voice box or breathing tube (trachea).

Stoma: Opening from an organ to the outside such as the tracheal stoma that is present after a tracheotomy.

Stroke: Lack of blood to the brain, resulting in the sudden loss of speech, language, or the ability to move a body part and, if severe enough, death. Also known as a cerebrovascular accident.

Stomal stenosis: Narrowing of a stoma (see above) by scar tissue.

Stuttering: Frequent repetition of words or parts of words that disrupts the smooth flow of speech.

Sudden deafness: The loss of hearing that occurs quickly due to such causes as explosion, a viral infection, or the use of some drugs.

Swallowing disorders: Any of a group of problems that interferes with the transfer of food from the mouth to the stomach.

Syndromic hearing impairment: Hearing loss or deafness that, along with other characteristics, is inherited or passed down through generations of a family.

T Tactile: Related to touch or the sense of touch.

Tactile devices: Mechanical instruments that make use of touch to help individuals who have certain disabilities, such as deaf-blindness, to communicate.

Taste: The sensation produced by a stimulus applied to the gustatory nerve endings in the tongue. The four tastes are salt, sour, sweet, and bitter. Some scientists indicate the existence of a fifth taste, described as savory.

Taste disorder: The inability to perceive different flavors. Taste disorders may result from poor oral hygiene, gum disease, hepatitis, or medicines and chemotherapeutic drugs. Taste disorders may also be neurological.

Taste buds: Groups of cells located on the tongue that enable one to recognize different tastes.

TE puncture: Tracheoesophageal puncture (see below)

Temporomandibular joint: The connection of the jaw bone to the skull, movement of this joint opens and closes the mouth.

Throat disorders: Disorders or diseases of the larynx (voice box), pharynx or esophagus.

Thyroid: Organ in the neck surrounding the area of the windpipe where the voice box is located. This organ helps regulate metabolism. This gland requires iodine for production of hormones, thyroxine and Triiodothyronine. This gland also secretes calcitonin.

Thyroidectomy: Removal of the thyroid gland.

Thyroplasty: A surgical technique to improve voice by altering the cartilages of the larynx, which houses the vocal folds (vocal cords), in order to change the position or length of the vocal folds. Also known as laryngeal framework surgery.

Tinnismus: Inability to completely open the mouth.

Tinnitus: The sensation of a ringing, roaring, or buzzing sound in the ears or head. It is often associated with many forms of hearing impairment and noise exposure.

TM: Tympanic membrane (see below).

TMJ: Temporomandibular joint (see above).

Tongue: The large muscle on the floor of the mouth that manipulates food for chewing and swallowing. It is the main organ of taste, and assists in forming speech sounds.

Tonsil: Lymphoid tissue located in the back of the mouth.

Tonsillitis: Infection of the tonsils.

Tonsillectomy: Removal of one or both tonsils.

Touch: Tactile sense; the sense by which contact with the skin or mucous membrane is experienced.

Tourette Syndrome: A neurological disorder characterized by recurring movements and sounds (called tics).

Trachea: Windpipe, breathing tube, the structure that connects the back of the mouth with the lungs.

Tracheal stenosis: Narrowing of the trachea due to a birth defect or scar tissue formation.

Tracheoesophageal puncture: An opening that is created between the swallowing tube and the breathing tube to allow people who have had their voice boxes removed to create speech-like sounds.

Tracheostomy: A surgically created opening into the trachea (windpipe) to help someone breathe who has an obstruction or swelling in the larynx (voice box) or upper throat or who have their larynx surgically removed.

Tracheotomy: Creation of an opening through the neck into the breathing tube (trachea) in order to bypass the mouth and throat. Commonly used when significant obstruction exists above the level of the voice box or when the voice box is removed due to cancer.

Turbinate: Structure inside the nose that humidifies and filters air.

Tympanic membrane: Ear drum.

Tympanic membrane perforation: Hole in the ear drum.

Tympanoplasty: Repair of the ear drum using a patch usually made up of tissue taken from a nearby muscle.

U UARS: Upper airway resistance syndrome (see below).

UPP: Uvulopalatoplasty (see below).

Upper airway resistance syndrome: Restriction of breathing by the palate, tongue and/or nose during sleep.

Usher Syndrome: A hereditary disease that affects hearing and vision and sometimes balance.

Uvula: Small "punching bag" of muscle that hangs down in the back of the throat, helps close the mouth from the nose during speech.

Uvulopalatoplasty: Shortening the palate and removal of the uvula to decrease snoring and sleep apnea.

V Velocardiofacial Syndrome: An inherited disorder characterized by cleft palate (opening in the roof of the mouth), heart defects, characteristic facial appearance, minor learning problems, and speech and feeding problems.

Velopalatine insufficiency: Failure of the palate to adequately block the connection between the mouth and nose so that the voice sounds vary nasal and fluid may enter the nose during swallowing.

Velum: The area in the back of the nose connecting it to the throat and breathing tube.

Vertigo: The illusion of movement; a sensation as if the external world were revolving around an individual (objective vertigo) or as if the individual were revolving in space (subjective vertigo).

Vestibular neuronitis: An inflammation of the vestibular nerve.

Vestibular system: The system in the body that is responsible for maintaining balance, posture, and the body"s orientation in space. This system also regulates locomotion and other movements and keeps objects in visual focus as the body moves.

Vestibule: The bony cavity of the inner ear.

Vibrotactile aids: Mechanical instruments that help individuals who are deaf to detect and interpret sound through the sense of touch.

Vocal cords: Muscularized folds of mucous membrane that extend from the larynx (voice box) wall. The folds are enclosed in elastic vocal ligament and muscle that control the tension and rate of vibration of the cords as air passes through them. Also known as vocal folds.

Vocal cord nodules: Small thickenings or "calluses" found on vocal cord which produce hoarseness by allowing air to escape through the vocal cords during speech.

Vocal cord paralysis: The inability of one or both vocal folds (vocal cords) to move because of damage to the brain or nerves. During speech this paralysis allows air to escape and decreases the quality of the voice.

Vocal folds: See vocal cords.

Vocal tremor: Trembling or shaking of one or more of the muscles of the larynx, resulting in an unsteady-sounding voice.

Voice: The sound produced by air passing out through the larynx and upper respiratory tract.

Voice disorders: A group of problems involving abnormal pitch, loudness, or quality of the sound produced by the larynx (voice box).

VPI: Velopalatine insufficiency (see above)

W Waardenburg Syndrome - hereditary disorder that is characterized by hearing impairment, a white shock of hair and/or distinctive blue color to one or both eyes, and wide-set inner corners of the eyes. Balance problems are also associated with some types of Waardenburg syndrome.

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XYZ Xerostomia: Dry mouth, typically after radiation therapy that involves the mouth area.