Voice Disorders

Voice disorders are conditions that impair the production of speech to affect quality, pitch or intensity of speech sounds. When someone becomes hoarse because of overuse of the voice or an illness such as bronchitis, he/she is experiencing the most common type of voice disorder. Voice is produced when air passes by the vocal cords, causing them to vibrate and produce sound. Voice disorders usually are caused by problems with the vibration of the vocal cords. 

Vocal abuse, the straining or overuse of the voice, is a typical voice impairment. Vocal abuse can create many voice disorders, including vocal cord nodules and polyps. These nodules and polyps become swollen and can develop into hard, callous-like infections. These swollen spots make it harder for the vocal cords to vibrate properly. Vocal cord polyps can also be caused by smoking. Other causes of voice disorders include allergies, cancer, dehydration, aging and thyroid problems. 

The full list of voice disorders is quite extensive. Here are some of the more common disorders:

  • Vocal cord nodules and polyps
  • Vocal cord paralysis
  • Paradoxical vocal fold movement
  • Spasmodic dysphonia
  • Puberphonia
  • Reinke’s edema 

Prevention includes staying hydrated, maintaining overall health and fitness, avoiding smoking, and refraining from yelling or screaming.

If you find that your voice is hoarse, raspy or completely gone for more than two weeks, you should see a physician or speech-language pathologist.

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