Functional disorders of the upper airway associated with playing wind instruments1

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Several known functional disorders of the upper airway are associated with playing wind instruments. Some of these problems have been known for hundreds of years. Subcutaneous emphysema of the head and neck and parotid, palate paralysis, patulous eustachian tubes, laryngocele, and pharyngocele are some of the more common problems. In evaluating disorders of wind instrumentalists, it is important to obtain a history that is unique to the individual, including information about the work environment, playing technique, and length of time playing. Physicians should understand the differences in wind instruments, mouthpieces, and reeds to understand the pathologic problems that occur in wind instrumentalists. This paper serves as an introduction to some of the signs and symptoms of these problems and how they are unique in wind instrumentalists.



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