Everything You Need to Know about Voice Disorders

Little girl shouting concept

Everything You Need to Know about Voice Disorders

Anyone can develop some form of voice problem in the course of their lives for many different reasons. One common symptom is a sudden change in your voice. Hoarseness that lasts for more than three weeks is not normal and could be a sign of a more serious problem in your vocal cords. If you are suffering from any voice disorder, visit a voice clinic in Colorado where an Ear, Nose, Throat (ENT) specialist can diagnose and treat your condition.

Causes of Voice Disorders

Several factors may cause voice disorders. Some of the possible causes include:

  • Inflammation and swelling of the vocal cords
  • The growth of extra tissue in the vocal cords
  • Nerve problems, such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, ALS, myasthenia, and Huntington disease
  • Hormones
  • Vocal abuse

Types of Voice Disorders

Some of the most common voice disorders are:

  • Laryngitis
  • Neurological voice disorders, such as spasmodic dysphonia
  • Non-cancerous lesions, such as polyps, cysts, or nodules on the vocal cords
  • Precancerous and cancerous lesions
  • Vocal cord weakness or paralysis
  • White patches, such as leukoplakia

Voice Disorder Symptoms

A person with a voice disorder may experience any of the following:

  • Hoarseness
  • A quivering sound in their voice
  • Choppy or strained voice
  • Weak, breathy, or whispery voice
  • Pitch that is too low or too high

Who are at Risk of Developing a Voice Disorder?

Doctor checking the patient's throatThe factors listed below can increase your risk of developing a voice disorder:

  • Age
  • Allergies
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol use
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Illnesses, such as upper respiratory infections or colds
  • Misuse or abuse of voice, such as screaming
  • Psychological stress
  • Neurological disorders
  • Thyroid problems
  • Throat dehydration
  • Throat cancer
  • Scarring or trauma in the neck area

Diagnosis

If you’ve had a change in your voice that doesn’t seem to go away even after a few weeks, your primary care doctor may refer you to a throat specialist. This throat specialist will ask about your symptoms and will examine your larynx and vocal cords through certain tests, which include:

  • Laryngoscopy
  • Laryngeal electromyography (EMG)
  • Stroboscopy
  • Imaging tests (MRI and X-rays)

Treatments

There are several ways to treat a voice disorder, but the procedure will depend on the cause. Some simple lifestyle changes can help lessen or even stop your symptoms. Such changes may include not overusing your vocal cords by not yelling or screaming. You should also find time to rest and relax your voice if you use it a lot for work. Avoiding alcohol use and smoking can significantly improve your condition. Other treatments include speech therapy, medications, and injections.

If none of the above treatments works, then surgery may be necessary. During surgery, some tissue growths may be removed. However, if cancer is the cause of the growths, then you will need other forms of treatments such as radiation therapy.

A voice disorder, such as hoarseness, may not seem like an alarming condition. However, if the symptoms persist for a few weeks, seek the help of a specialist as there may be something more serious causing your voice disorder. A throat specialist can help diagnose and treat your condition. They may also refer you to another specialist for further treatments.

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