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Voice Disorder

What is voice?

Voice (or vocalization) is the sound produced by humans and other vertebrates using the lungs and the vocal folds in the larynx, or voice box. Voice is produced when air that is exhaled from the lungs (respiration) passes over the vocal cords, causing them to vibrate (phonation). The sound of the voice is then shaped by the muscular changes of the throat, mouth and palate (resonance).

What is a voice disorder?

A voice disorder can be defined as a problem when the pitch, loudness or quality of the voice calls attention to itself rather than to what the speaker is saying. A voice disorder is an abnormal change in the way a person’s voice sounds. It is also a problem if the speaker experiences pain or discomfort when speaking or singing.

What are the symptoms of a voice disorder?

  • Hoarseness
  • Breathiness
  • Pitch change
  • Voice “cracks”
  • Loss of vocal range when singing
  • Frequent throat clearing
  • Vocal fatigue/pain
  • Strain/effortful voicing
  • Voice loss (aphonia)
  • Tremor

Causes

  • Inflammation or swelling
  • Acid reflux
  • Vocal abuse/misuse
  • Benign growths (e.g., nodules,polyps, cysts)
  • Neuromuscular conditions (e.g., vocal cord paralysis, spasmodic dysphonia)
  • Laryngeal cancer
  • Habitual coughing or throat clearing
  • Upper respiratory infections

Who is at risk for a voice disorder?

Approximately 3% to 10% of the general population will experience a voice disorder in their lifetime, but certain individuals are at greater risk, including professional voice users (i.e. teachers, singers, clergy, coaches, attorneys), smokers, individuals who have had surgery to the head or neck, or individuals who have neurological disorders (i.e. stroke, spasmodic dysphonia, Parkinson’s Disease). Investigation results indicated that teachers appear to be at higher risk of experiencing voice disorders compared with the general population.

When should I seek attention for my voice problem?

If you have experienced any of the symptoms of a voice disorder described above, you should consult a doctor. An otolaryngologist or an ENT will examine your vocal cords either with a laryngeal mirror or an endoscope that is passed through either the nose or mouth. This examination will determine if treatment is required.

How are voice disorders treated?

Treatment of voice disorders may include one or a combination of medication, voice therapy or surgery.

What is voice therapy?

Voice therapy is an individualized combination of vocal hygiene recommendations, modification of vocal behaviors and exercises designed to address specific vocal problems. Findings strongly suggest that occupationally related voice dysfunction in teachers can have significant adverse effects on job performance, attendance, and future career choices.

Why is voice therapy needed?

Findings strongly suggest that occupationally related voice dysfunction in teachers can have significant adverse effects on job performance, attendance, and future career choices. Professional voice users versus general population were more likely to report multiple voice symptoms, attribute these symptoms to their occupation, and miss work more often because of voice problems. The objective of voice therapy is to return the voice to a level of social’s and occupational adequacy within the patient’s structural and functional capabilities.

When can I expect improvement?

No two people are the same. Rate and degree of improvement depends upon a number of factors such as age, severity of the problem, cause of the problem, co-existing medical conditions and patient commitment to therapeutic intervention. The likelihood of complete return of the voice via symptomatic voice therapy is excellent if the patient is ready to relinquish the voice sign and to bring the problem causing it into the open, the prognosis is poor for the patients who are unwilling to face and deal with the underlying problem causing the problem.

Who provides voice therapy?

A specialist with a 4yrs degree course {BASLP} & 2yrs master degree course {MASLP} in Audiology, Speech and Language Pathology from a RCI affiliated college under UGC Recognized University. He/ She should have RCI Reg. No. as well as ISHA Reg. No. to practice individually in Speech & Hearing Profession.

Duration of therapy

Depending on the severity duration of therapy varies, but approximately 7 to 8 months required for a dedicated and motivated client.

Prognosis

Treatment for voice disorders varies depending on the cause. Most voice problems can be successfully treated when diagnosed early and with proper maintenance and practice.