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Esophageal Speech

Esophageal speech is a very common way people learn to speak after laryngectomy; however, it requires intense speech therapy and might take a long time to learn how to do it successfully. Speech is produced by taking air into the esophagus and letting it out so the top of your esophagus vibrates and produces sound. The sound is the manipulated as usual by your mouth, tongue and lips to create speech; however, the sound will be of a lower pitch. It's kind of like a belch, but different—the air isn't coming from the stomach. Air is pulled in (inhaled or taken in using the lips or the tongue) right below that vibrating segment, and then it comes out. It's a more controlled way to produce sound.

Some speech/language pathologists are familiar with esophageal speech and can and assist laryngectomees in learning this method. Self-help books and tapes can also help in learning this method of speech.

There may be limitations on whether this is the best speaking option, as it depends on the patient’s post-operative healing and outcome. This is an issue best discussed with your speech pathologist.

Advantages of Esophageal Speech:

  • Both hands are free
  • It doesn’t require any further surgery
  • There are not external devices that need cleaning or changing

Disadvantages of Esophageal Speech:

  • Difficult for some to learn
  • Time and financial commitment to learn
  • Pitch, loudness and intelligibility problems