Expert care for throat, voice, and sleep disorders.

Throat Cancer

For patients with cancer of the throat, if the cancer is affecting the voice box, it will often cause changes in the voice. Symptoms include throat pain, cough, hoarseness, swallowing difficulty, a lump in the neck, shortness of breath or coughing up blood. It may also result in difficulty swallowing or breathing. The patient may also notice a lump on the side of the neck, unintentional weight loss, or ear pain. The cancer can be visualized by performing a laryngoscopy, but the diagnosis is not made until a biopsy determines that there is cancer. Treatment may involve surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy.

Chronic Cough

A chronic cough is described as a cough that lasts for 8 weeks or longer. A lingering cough can disrupt your sleep and affect your concentration. If you have a persistent cough that isn’t going away, make an appointment today.

Chronic coughing can be triggered by a variety of factors, including:

Our ENT specialist can treat chronic cough through a physical exam and prescribed medications.

Acid Reflux

Acid reflux, also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), is a chronic digestive condition that causes heartburn and regurgitation. Normally, after a meal, a valve on your esophagus – the sphincter – closes, preventing hydrochloric acid produced in the digestive process from backing up (refluxing) into the esophagus. When reflux occurs, this valve fails to seal properly, and the stomach contents flow into the throat and esophagus. This damages the esophageal lining and causes a variety of painful symptoms.

Acid reflux is treated on a case-by-case basis. Our ENT will work with you to find the best management options.

Sore Throat

Everyone suffers from a sore throat once in a while. However, chronic sore throats that do not go away can be painful and distracting. Symptoms of a sore throat include pain, scratchiness, dry throat, difficulty swallowing, hoarseness, swollen neck, and inflamed tonsils.

Most sore throats are the result of viral infections. Additional factors that can cause a sore throat include allergies, acid reflux, dry air, or strained vocal cords. Occasionally, a more serious condition such as a tumor or HIV can also cause a sore throat.


45% of healthy adults snore at least occasionally, and 25% are habitual snorers. Problem snoring is more frequent in males and overweight people and usually worsens with age. Snoring may be an indication of obstructed breathing and should not be taken lightly. Dr. Liess can help you to determine where the anatomic source of your snoring may be and offer solutions for this noisy and often embarrassing behavior. If you have a concern as to whether or not this is the appropriate practice for your medical condition, please do not hesitate to contact us for an appointment.

In children, snoring may be a sign of problems with the tonsils and adenoids. A chronically snoring child should be examined by Dr. Liess, who may recommend a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy to return the child to full health.

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is one of the most common and potentially serious sleep disorders. It is caused by obstruction of the upper airway which includes the nose and throat. This can lead to snoring and choking noises as you try to breathe at night. Sleep apnea can reduce the oxygen flow to your brain and body causing significant long-term health consequences and increase the risk of stroke, heart attack, and sudden death.

Surgical Treatment for Sleep Apnea

Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) is surgery for treating snoring and obstructive sleep apnea. It removes excess soft palate tissue, tightens the pharynx, and opens the airway. In addition, the remaining tissue stiffens as it heals, thereby minimizing tissue vibration. The size of the air passage may be further enlarged when a tonsillectomy is added to the procedure.

Swallowing Disorders

Swallowing disorders can have a variety of causes including infections, injury, reflux disease, growths or cysts, neck arthritis, muscular issues, and neurologic causes such as multiple sclerosis, stroke, ALS, CRPS among many others. The appropriate diagnosis is critical to develop a proper treatment plan and return the patient to a regular diet without discomfort. We work closely with speech and language pathologists, neurologists, radiologists, and other providers to develop successful treatment approaches.


Laryngitis is an inflammation of the voice box and is the most common cause of hoarseness. Viral or bacterial infections usually cause laryngitis that comes on suddenly. Viral infections generally resolve on their own whereas bacterial infections require antibiotics. Some patients, such as those who are on steroid inhalers, acquire fungal laryngitis which can also be treated by antifungal medications. Other common causes of laryngitis include acid reflux as well as allergies. This kind of laryngitis tends to be more gradual and lasts longer (usually weeks or months). Treating the underlying cause of hoarseness is the best way to resolve the symptoms.


Adenotonsillitis – or tonsillitis – refers to inflammation of the pharyngeal tonsils, which are lymph glands located in the back of the throat that are visible through the mouth. Typically, tonsillitis happens suddenly (acute). Some patients experience recurrent acute episodes of tonsillitis, while others develop persistent (chronic) tonsillitis. Symptoms of acute tonsillitis include:

• Fever
• Sore throat
• Bad breath
• Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia)
• Tender lymph nodes in the neck
• Mouth breathing, snoring, or sleep apnea
• Tiredness, lethargy, and malaise

Symptoms of chronic tonsillitis include:
• Persistent sore throat
• Bad breath
• Tonsil stones (debris that has collected on your tonsils)
• Persistently tender lymph nodes in the neck

Treatment Options
Patients with symptoms of tonsillitis should make an appointment. Viral tonsillitis usually gets better without additional treatment. Bacterial tonsillitis is usually treated with antibiotics. In certain situations, surgery may be recommended to remove the tonsils. Typically, children who have seven episodes of tonsillitis in one year, or five episodes per year for two consecutive years, or three episodes per year for three consecutive years, are considered candidates for tonsillectomy.

Head & Neck Cancer

Each year, more than 55,000 Americans will develop head and neck cancer. Benjamin Liess, MD, is here to diagnose and treat these cancers. We offer care for patients with all types and stages of head and neck tumors (cancerous and noncancerous).

We will help you through all stages of cancer treatment – diagnosis, tumor staging, treatment, and long-term follow-up care. We help to coordinate treatments with other local specialists to provide you the highest quality of service.

Early warning signs of head and neck cancer include:
• Lump in the neck
• Change in the voice
• A growth in the mouth
• Swallowing problems
• Changes in the skin
• Persistent earache

Skin Cancer

Skin cancer can develop on any part of the body that receives frequent sun or UV exposure. One of the most prone areas of skin cancer is the face though. There are three different types of facial skin cancer:

  1. Basal cell carcinoma affects the face, ears, and scalp, and are characterized by a pearly, waxy bump; a flat, flesh-colored lesion; or a brown scar-like lesion.

  2. Squamous cell carcinomas are most typically found on the face, lips, and ears. Signs include a firm, reddish nodule and a flat lesion with a scaly or crusted surface.

  3. Melanomas can occur anywhere but are commonly found on the head or neck. Symptoms of facial melanoma include a mole that changes size or color, or bleeds; a brownish spot with dark speckles; a lesion with an irregular border and parts that appear red, blue, blue-black, or white; and dark lesions on the mucous membranes lining the nose and mouth.

Skin Cancer Treatment

Treatment for skin cancer depends on the type, size, and location of the cancer as well as the patient’s overall health.

Small lesions on the surface of the skin can often be removed with a simple skin biopsy. Other types of skin cancers detected early can be removed by freezing with liquid nitrogen or vaporizing with laser therapy. Excisional surgery, or Mohs surgery, is used for larger grows.

Voice Disorders

Vocal problems occur with a change in the voice, often described as hoarseness or dysphonia. Hoarseness is usually caused by changes to the voice box, or larynx, and it is deemed chronic when it lasts longer than 4 to 6 weeks. The larynx has three primary functions. Besides its role in speaking, it also controls swallowing and breathing. For this reason, when there is a problem in the voice box causing hoarseness, the patient may also experience changes in their swallowing (dysphagia) and breathing (dyspnea) along with chronic throat clearing or coughing.

Treatment for hoarseness depends primarily on the cause. Increasing hydration and limiting extended voice use allows the voice box to recover from the trauma of overuse or misuse. Controlling any acid reflux and allergies helps to reduce these aggravating factors which can make the voice worse.

Our ENT specialist can treat chronic cough through a physical exam and prescribed medications.