You’re at a game that’s come down to the wire and yelling with excitement and encouragement. The next day, however, you find your voice is hoarse and barely audible. This is an example of a common voice disorder that remedies itself quickly. There are times, though, when a voice disorder can linger, and you or your child are having problems making yourselves understood for much longer than a day or two.
At Celebrations Speech Group, our team of experienced speech therapists and pediatric speech pathologists has significant experience helping people overcome voice disorders so they can be heard loud and clear.
Here, we outline a few of the more common causes of voice disorders and how our speech therapy can help.
Defining a voice disorder
A voice disorder involves the quality, pitch, and/or volume of your voice, and a problem in one of these areas can hinder how well you’re understood.
Some common examples of how a voice disorder can present itself are:
- Raspy or rough voice
- Weak voice
- Loss of voice
- Shaky voice
- High-pitched voice
- A gurgly voice
These symptoms can be ongoing or only crop up after you’ve used your voice for a time, and the symptoms grow worse as the days go on.
Causes of voice disorders
A wide range of issues can lead to a voice disorder. The example we presented earlier about yelling is one of the more common ways you can develop a temporary voice disorder. In fact, 1 out of 13 adults develops a voice disorder each year in the United States.
What we’re concerned with here are issues that lead to ongoing problems with your child’s or your voice, which can arise due to:
Problems in the larynx
Your larynx is a muscle group that allows air to pass through to your lungs and holds your vocal cords. Some more common issues that lead to a voice disorder are issues in your vocal folds (cords), such as nodules or cysts, muscle atrophy, bruising, or direct trauma.
Uncontrolled acid reflux may also damage your vocal cords and lead to voice issues.
Nerve-related voice disorders
In some cases, a malfunction in the nervous system can lead to problems, such as a tremorous voice, vocal cord spasms, or vocal cord paralyzation.
Functional voice disorders
If the health and structure of your larynx are normal, the voice disorder may stem from overusing or misusing your vocal cords (think about people who need to use their voices more, such as singers or teachers).
Mental health issues
Ongoing problems with stress and anxiety can also lead to an abnormal voice, such as one that’s hoarse or weak.
Treating voice disorders
Once we figure out what’s behind your child’s or your voice disorder, we devise a treatment plan to help improve your voice. This plan might include one or more of the following:
- Strengthening exercises for your vocal cords
- Breathing techniques that add volume and steadiness to your voice
- Relaxation techniques to eliminate muscle tension around your larynx
- Mouth and jaw exercises
- Tips for protecting your voice
We also treat patients who’ve had surgery to improve their voices, such as removing problematic nodules. After the surgery, you’ll want results quickly, and we can help by strengthening and retraining the vocal cords.
If you or your child is struggling to be heard because of a voice disorder, please contact one of our locations in Brentwood, Stockton, or Elk Grove, California, to set up a consultation.