A voice disorder can occur when there is a disruption or disturbance in the vocal mechanism of an individual. Voice disorders are classified as functional (e.g. improper or inefficient use of the vocal mechanism) or organic (e.g. physiologic changes of the respiratory, laryngeal, or vocal tract). These disorders can affect adults and children.

What causes a voice disorder?

Voice disorders can be caused by poor vocal hygiene (voice misuse and overuse) including yelling or screaming, whispering, excessive talking (common in teachers and other individuals who use their voice professionally), improper posture, smoking or being in a smoky environment, increased alcohol consumption, inadequate respiration, and dehydration (e.g. not drinking enough water). Voice disorders can also be caused by laryngeal cancer, vocal cord paralysis or paresis, benign vocal fold lesions (e.g. nodules, polyps, or papilloma, typically diagnosed by an ENT), or neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s Disease, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), and Multiple Sclerosis.

What are the symptoms of a voice disorder?

Symptoms of voice disorders vary depending on the individual. Common symptoms include hoarseness, harshness, breathiness, chronic cough or excessive throat clearing, vocal fatigue, a strained vocal quality, inability to speak loudly, loss of voice, reduced pitch range or a sudden change in overall pitch, or a sudden or gradual change in overall voice quality.

When is speech therapy recommended for a voice disorder?

An evaluation by a licensed Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) is recommended for any individual who is experiencing a disruption to their normal speaking voice. The SLP will provide a thorough assessment of vocal quality and make recommendations for a therapy program and/or further instrumental assessment by an Otolaryngologist (ENT).

What does therapy for a voice disorder involve?

The specific kind of voice therapy a person receives varies as every person’s voice is different! At Sensible Speech Language Pathology Inc. we have SLPs who are certified to provide LSVT LOUD therapy, vocal hygiene programs, vocal function exercises, and more. Your healthy voice is our top priority!