WHAT IS VOICE?
The sound of a person’s voice is produced when air passes over the vocal cords causing them to vibrate. The quality and distinct sound of each person’s voice is shaped by the muscular changes of the throat, mouth and palate.
WHAT IS VOICE DISORDER?
A voice disorder is an abnormal change in the way a person’s voice sounds. A voice disorder occurs when voice quality, pitch, and/or loudness differ or are inappropriate for an individual’s age, gender, cultural background, or geographic location. Voice issues become a problem when the attention is given to abnormal change in voice rather than to what the speaker is saying. It is also a problem if the speaker experiences pain, fatigue, or discomfort when speaking or singing.
Voice disorders have been estimated to be present in between 3% and 9% of the U.S. population. However, data indicates the point prevalence (i.e., the number of individuals with the condition in the database at the time that data were retrieved) of voice disorders is 0.98% in a treatment-seeking population. This likely suggests that a large number of those individuals with voice disorders do not seek treatment.
How do I know I have voice problem?
The following can help you determine if you might be experiencing voice problems:
- Has my voice become hoarse or raspy?
- Does my throat often feel sore, achy or strained?
- Does talking require more effort than usual?
- Do I find myself repeatedly clearing my throat?
Other symptoms to consider:
- Pitch Changes
- Voice “cracks”
- Loss of vocal range
- Voice loss
WHEN TO SEEK HELP FOR VOICE PROBLEMS?
If you experience persistent symptoms of a potential voice disorder, you should seek an examination by a physician. The physician’s examination usually occurs before the voice evaluation by the Speech-Language Pathologist.
HOW DO SPEECH-LANGUAGE PATHOLOGISTS HELP WITH VOICE DISORDERS?
After you consult a physician about your voice disorder, you may seek the services of a Speech-Language Pathologist. SLPs are involved in the diagnosis, assessment, planning, and treatment of individuals with voice disorders. They are healthcare providers with training in evaluation of voice use and vocal function to determine the causes of voice loss and the best treatments for improving and maintaining voice production.
HOW IS VOICE DISORDER TREATED?
Treatment of voice may include one or a combination of medication, voice therapy, or surgery.
Voice therapy is an individualized combination of vocal hygiene recommendations, modification of vocal behaviors, and exercises designed to address specific vocal problems. A customized treatment program can be recommended by a Speech-Language Pathologist following a voice evaluation.
If you or your loved one is experiencing difficulty with their voice, speech-language pathologists are valuable resources to help guide you in finding evaluation and treatment options. Restore Outpatient’s focus on Wellness facilitates a better quality of life for its clients. If you have any questions about voice disorders, contact us!
For more information about voice disorders, visit the American Speech-Language- Hearing Association.