Your voice is as unique as you are. When something happens to your voice, it is definitely a cause for concern. Our ENT doctors at Northeast Atlanta ENT are experienced with diagnosing and treating patients who have voice disorders.
What is a Voice Disorder?
There are a few reasons why a person’s voice can sound abnormal or hoarse at times; some you may not be able to control.
The following list includes common reasons that may cause voice problems:
- the common cold (may also cause laryngitis that can make your voice hoarse or sometimes you may “lose your voice”)
- cheering loudly for your favorite sports team(s)
- exposure to irritants (ammonia, bleach, etc)
- consistent presence of stomach acids in your throat
- growths from a virus, cancer, or disease (these growths can paralyze the vocal cords)
All of these reasons can lead to vocal cord injuries and other problems with sores, polyps, or the nodules on the vocal cords.
Signs and Symptoms of Voice Disorders
There are a few signs and symptoms which can indicate if you have a voice problem.
- Your voice can become raspy or hoarse.
- Your voice sounds deeper all of a sudden.
- Your throat frequently feels strained, achy, and/or raw.
- When you sing, you will not be able to sing the high notes.
- You will constantly clear your throat.
- It will become difficult to talk when you try.
As always, it is best to get evaluated by your ENT doctor if you are experiencing symptoms.
Common Types of Voice Disorders
- vocal fold cysts
- vocal cord paresis
- vocal fold nodules
- spasmodic dysphonia
- reinke’s edema
How are Voice Disorders Diagnosed and Treated?
Our ENT doctors must perform an evaluation to find out the underlying cause of your voice disorder. We will conduct a thorough analysis and ask about your symptoms. Additionally, a visual exam of the back of the throat (a laryngoscopy) must be performed. It is relatively painless.
Treatment for voice disorders relies heavily upon the underlying cause.
8 Tips for Keeping Your Voice Healthy
- Drink a lot of water. It is very important to consume an adequate amount of water or non-caffeinated and non-alcoholic beverages throughout the day— up to eight 8-ounce glasses per day. Hydration will help to keep thin secretions flowing in order to lubricate the vocal cords.
- Minimize screaming or yelling. These behaviors can be abusive to your voice, putting significant strain on the vocal cord linings. If you expect to use your voice a lot (i.e. teaching, preaching, giving a speech, etc), use warm-up exercises similar to what singers do before performing. Warm-up exercises can include: lip trills (making the sound of a motorboat), tongue trills, gently gliding from low to high tones on different vowel sounds.
- Do not smoke. Smoking can increase your risks for laryngeal (voice box) cancer. Smoking can also cause inflammation and polyps of the vocal cords. This can lead to a weak, husky, or hoarse voice.
- Use good breath support. Take the time to fill your lungs with air before talking. Do not wait until you are almost out of air before taking another breath. Keep in mind that breath flow is very important and it is the power for your voice.
- Use a microphone, when necessary. This will lessen the strain of your voice when giving a presentation or a speech.
- Listen to your voice. Pay attention to problems with your voice. In matters of hoarseness, you should modify or decrease your voice so that your vocal cords can recover. If you are hoarse and you continue to push your voice, it can lead to significant problems. When you experience frequent hoarseness, or if hoarseness lasts for a long period of time, call your otolaryngologist (ear, nose, and throat physician) for an evaluation.
- Minimize throat clearing. Clearing your throat frequently greatly increases the chances of vocal cord injury and future voice hoarseness. Instead of constantly clearing your voice, take a few sips of water.
- Avoid using your voice as much as possible when you are sick. You should avoid talking as much as possible, especially if you have an upper respiratory infection.
If you experience symptoms related to your voice or a voice disorder, it is always best to get evaluated and treated as soon as possible.
Please call either of our offices in Johns Creek (770-623-1608) or Lawrenceville, GA (770-237-3000) to schedule your appointment.