Voice Disorders

What is voice and how does sound emit from our mouths? It starts with air from our lungs being pushed through our larynx (or voice box). The larynx contains two cords that are called vocal cords and they need to vibrate to produce sound. Sometimes, due to a variety of reasons, the vocal cords are damaged and a patient will suffer a voice disorder. Specialists at Therapies of the Rockies provide treatment and options for voice disorders.

Many people have colds and temporary voice issues such as hoarseness or they may lose their voice. These minor situations typically resolve with rest and home remedies of hot tea with honey and lemon. There are more serious forms of voice disorders. They generally fall into four main types of voice disorders:

Vocal Cord Paralysis – This happens when one or both of the vocal cords in the larynx stop vibrating during speech. If both stop vibrating, it may impact a person’s eating. This condition can be caused from a head or neck injury, tumor, surgery or possibly a stroke. This condition needs to be treated medically and a specialist at Therapies of the Rockies can suggest behaviors to help the patient cope once it is diagnosed.

Vocal Cord Nodules & Polyps – These nodules and polyps are typically non-cancerous. They are caused from overuse such as yelling, over use of singing (musicians will sometimes need to cancel tour gigs due to overuse). The vocal cord becomes soft and swells. If it develops into a blister type of sore, it is a polyp and if it becomes hardened like a growth, it is nodule. After diagnosis by the physician, a speech language pathologist will help the patient identify triggers that cause it and suggest alternatives. They will also work with the patient to come up with communication mechanisms while the cords are healing.

Spasmodic Dysphonia – This condition is typically long term where the voice will change to a quivery, jerky sound with little or no warning and then go back to normal. The condition starts out with minimal changes and then progresses. The highly trained specialists at Therapies of the Rockies can help the patient determine what triggers this nervous system condition and how to work around them.

Paradoxical Vocal Fold Movement (PVFM) – Sometimes the vocal cords or folds will spontaneous close at inopportune times causing issues with breathing. This condition is one of the most difficult voice disorders to treat due to similar symptoms to asthma and other wheezing conditions.

So, if you have any of the following symptoms, the specialists at Therapies of the Rockies can help evaluate if you need further testing and an appointment with a physician:

  • Hoarseness
  • A feeling something is lodged in the throat
  • Voice changes that do not improve after 2-3 weeks of being ill
  • Voice problems (changes in pitch or volume or a rough voice) that come and go

If you have suffered any of the above symptoms or if you need more information, check out the specialists at Therapies of the Rockies trained and qualified speech pathology staff!