Low-Volume Voice Disorder: Causes and Treatments

Treating Low-Volume Voice Disorder

Low-Volume Voice Disorder

Speaking is a complex process involving different parts of your body. Your lungs push air out, which then goes over two pieces of tissue called vocal cords in your voice box or larynx. The airflow makes the cords vibrate, and they create a sound when they touch each other. If you have trouble controlling your voice’s pitch, tone, or volume, it could be a sign of low-volume voice disorder. These disorders can be temporary or permanent, depending on the underlying cause. You should see an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) doctor to diagnose and treat voice disorders.

If your voice is too quiet, there are several possible reasons why this is happening. Here are some common causes of low-volume voice disorders and the treatments that can be used to correct them.

The Facts About Voice Disorders

Experiencing a voice disorder can alter the quality of your voice. This can result in temporary hoarseness, breathiness, or a change in pitch, causing your voice to sound higher, deeper, or softer than someone of similar age and gender. Voice disorders can be classified into two main categories:

Functional disorders

Vocal disorders can arise from the excessive or improper use of the vocal cords, such as shouting at events or frequent throat clearing. These disorders can lead to strain and discomfort in the vocal cords, affecting an individual’s communication ability.

Organic disorders

It is possible to experience voice disorders due to the abnormal structure of your larynx or vocal fold tissues, which can interfere with sound production. Certain neurological conditions can also cause these disorders. Unfortunately, there is not much you can do to prevent them. However, there are treatments available to help manage them.

Low-Volume Voice Disorder: Causes and Treatments


Laryngitis occurs when your vocal cords become swollen, causing hoarseness or total loss of voice. Acute laryngitis usually develops quickly due to a virus in the upper respiratory tract, and its symptoms last for a few weeks. Resting your voice and drinking enough fluids can help alleviate the symptoms. In contrast, chronic laryngitis is characterized by long-term inflammation. Common causes of chronic laryngitis include chronic coughing, prolonged use of inhalers for asthma, and GERD (acid reflux). The treatment of chronic laryngitis depends on the underlying cause.

Vocal cord paresis (paralysis)

The vocal cords can be partially or entirely paralyzed for various reasons, like a viral infection affecting the vocal cord nerves or an injury to a nerve serving the cords during surgery, stroke, or cancer. If the cords are paralyzed in a nearly closed position, you may experience labored and noisy breathing. On the other hand, if they are paralyzed in an open position, their voice may become weak and breathy, leading to low-volume voice disorder. While some people recover over time, others may experience permanent paralysis. In such cases, surgery and a course of voice therapy may aid in recovery.

Spasmodic dysphonia

This condition affects the nerves of the vocal cords and causes them to spasm. As a result, your voice may sound tight, quivery, or hoarse. Sometimes, you may be able to speak normally, but at other times you may struggle to speak audibly or at all. The treatment for this condition often involves speech therapy and injections of botulinum toxin (Botox®) into the vocal cords. The botulinum toxin prevents nerve stimulation, which relaxes the muscles and helps improve your voice.

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