Many people develop a voice problem related to an upper respiratory infection, other laryngeal changes, or phonotraumatic behaviors, such as yelling or speaking for long periods. It is important to see an otolaryngologist if you notice changes in your voice to rule out any physical pathology that may be contributing to your voice problem. I address vocal behaviors associated with a variety of vocal fold pathologies, some of which include:
- Nodules, polyps, or cysts
- Laryngopharyngeal reflux
- Paresis, paralysis or vocal fold bowing
- Muscle tension dysphonia
- Vocal aging
- Scarring or sulcus vocalis
- Puberphonia (pitch that never lowered enough with puberty)
- Spasmodic dysphonia
- Paradoxical vocal fold motion, which can manifest as a cough, breathing difficulty, or a choking sensation
- Refer to the neurological disorders page for other illnesses
With a perceptual-acoustic speech-voice evaluation, I can determine whether the way you speak is a cause or an effect of the voice problem (or both) and whether therapy is a good treatment option for you. I also perform videostroboscopy if you have not had a recent laryngeal imaging examination in order to rule out any anatomic or physiologic problem. Some areas to work on in therapy include vocal hygiene, resonance, breath support, breath control, and relaxation of the tongue, jaw, face, neck, and shoulders. Should you be in need of vocal surgery, my therapy can serve as a rehabilitative supplement to surgery as a way of quickening and maximizing the results, and avoiding recurrence of the problem.
Acid reflux is commonly associated with hoarseness, and it can occur in the throat even if you don’t feel heartburn or stomach symptoms. Answer questions on the Reflux Symptom Index to consider symptoms that may suggest that you have a reflux problem.
Emotion, stress, reduced water intake, and insufficient sleep can all affect the voice. Think about how these factors may coincide with the voice changes you are experiencing.
Avoid chronic throat clearing, because it can hurt your voice. Instead, try swallowing your saliva or sipping water to get rid of the irritation you are feeling.
Answer questions on the Voice Handicap Index-10 to pinpoint symptoms that may indicate that you have a voice problem.