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7 Types of Voice Disorders

7 Types of Voice Disorders

You want to make yourself heard, but your voice just isn’t cutting it — perhaps your volume is too low, or you’re experiencing hoarseness when you speak. These are classic signs of a voice disorder, which affects about 3%-9% of the population in the United States at any given time.

The team here at Celebrations Speech Group specializes in speech and occupational therapy, and voice disorders very much fall under our areas of expertise.

If you’re having issues making yourself understood and an issue with your voice is to blame, read on to learn more about several different types of voice disorders.

A quick word about voice disorders

In our world, there are different types of communication disorders, and a voice disorder is different from a speech disorder. A great way to differentiate is to follow the definition pulled together by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, which describes a voice disorder as occurring when “Quality, pitch, and loudness differ or are inappropriate for an individual’s age, gender, cultural background, or geographic location.”

Examples of voice disorders

There are many different types of voice disorders, and we’re going to explore seven of them here, which range from minor nuisances to significant issues with communication.

1. Hoarseness

People can develop a hoarse voice for many reasons, from yelling at a sporting event to singing along at a concert. While most cases of hoarseness are just temporary, ongoing issues can develop due to larger issues, such as Parkinson’s disease.

2. Laryngitis

Another type of voice disorder that’s usually fairly minor is laryngitis, which occurs when your voice box is swollen or irritated, typically because of respiratory infections or allergies. 

3. Growths or lesions

If growths or lesions develop in your vocal cords, it can very much affect the quality of your speech. These growths or lesions (scar tissue) can develop for a wide range of reasons, from injury to your vocal cords to cancerous growths in your voice box.

4. Vocal cord paralysis

Certain injuries or diseases can lead to paralysis in your vocal folds, such as Lyme disease or a stroke. This paralysis can lead to hoarseness, breathiness, or raspiness in your voice. You may also experience breathing and swallowing issues, as well.

5. Thyroid issues

Up to 38% of people who have a thyroid disorder experience voice issues. While a thyroid nodule can impact the quality of your voice by physically interfering with your voice box, any change in thyroid hormones can also lead to voice changes.\

6. Nerve issues

If trauma or a disease like multiple sclerosis affects the nerves that control your vocal cords, it can lead to a voice disorder.

7. Muscle tension or spasmodic dysphonia

Dysphonia is the medical term for a voice disorder. With muscle tension dysphonia, you overstress your vocal cords, and the muscles tighten (such as a teacher who talks all day). With spasmodic dysphonia, there’s a neurological issue that’s causing spasms in your larynx that’s changing your voice, making it breathy and soft or strained and tight.

As you can see, there are many different roads to a voice disorder, and the best way to find out what’s affecting your voice is to come to see us for an evaluation.

To get started, please contact one of our offices in Brentwood, Stockton, or Elk Grove, California, to schedule an appointment.

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