velopharyngeal insufficiency

Velopharyngeal insufficiency – causes, symptoms and treatment

To understand Velopharyngeal Insufficiency, it is good to know what it is and what it does in your body. Velopharyngeal insufficiency is the inability of the body to temporarily close the communication between the nasal cavity and the mouth.

This happens due to anatomic dysfunction of the soft palate. Another thing that can cause this is the lateral or posterior wall of the pharynx.

Velopharyngeal insufficiency (VPI) also occurs after adenoidectomy because the adenoids are in the same area where Velopharyngeal valve closes.

That sort of dysfunction ends up making the individual to have functional problems with speech, chewing, swallowing and breathing.

Velopharyngeal insufficiency basically includes any structural defect of the velum or pharyngeal walls at the level of the nasopharynx.

Ideally, the term insufficiency is used when the defect is anatomical and not a neurological problem. It can be frustrating when a loved one is diagnosed with velopharyngeal insufficiency although there are ways to treat it.

For you to produce that sound you desire, there are so many structures in your mouth and throat that will have to work together to produce it.

For this complicated structure to be successful, all the structures have to work properly, if any of them is not, then, there will be a noticeable speech abnormality.

When some parts of the throat and roof of the mouth are not formed correctly, vocalization of some sounds such as ‘p’s sound weak. Hypernality, an airy nasal buzz causes this.

The roof of the mouth would rise to block airflow into the nasal passages in a normal speech pattern. This is very important to force the air out of your mouth to enable fullness and clarity while you speak.

Children with velopharyngeal insufficiency are not able to form a complete seal with the roof of their mouth and when the air escapes into the nasal cavity, they end up forming telltale sounds.

It is important to note that speech formation abnormalities can cause similar symptoms but Velopharyngeal insufficiency is specifically due to a failure of structures in the mouth and throat.

Velopharyngeal insufficiency can be caused by a variety of disorders such as structural, genetic, functional or even acquired.

Velopharyngeal insufficiency is normally associated with a cleft palate. This condition can result if adenoidectomy is done on a patient with cleft palate or submucous palate.

A cleft palate is a gap in the soft and hard palate and it occurs when the baby is still in the womb when the two growth palates that form a baby’s jaw don’t fuse completely in the womb.

There is also a chance of a child developing velopharyngeal insufficiency even when the cleft palate has been surgically repaired by an ENT. Another cause is when a child is born with a short palate that is not long or large enough to block the pharynx…
Continue reading the article and learn more about velopharyngeal insufficiency on Mike Myers’ blog

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