Voice Disorders: Types and Treatments

The Facts About Voice Disorders

Voice Disorders
Speaking is a complex process that involves the passage of air from your lungs over two folds of tissue in your larynx, also known as your voice box. These folds, also called vocal cords, vibrate when the air passes through them, producing sound. If you experience difficulty controlling the pitch, tone, or volume of your voice, it is possible that you may have a voice disorder. Depending on the underlying cause, this disorder may be temporary or permanent. ENT doctors diagnose and treat voice disorders. Since many people are not well-versed in this issue, we would like to inform you about the two main types of voice disorders and their treatments.

Voice Disorders: Types and Treatments

Your voice is unique – no one else sounds quite like you do. However, a voice disorder can alter the quality of your voice in some way. You may experience temporary hoarseness, breathiness, or changes in pitch that make your voice sound higher, deeper, or softer than someone of your age and gender.

Organic Disorders

Disorders affecting the larynx or vocal fold tissues may arise due to inherent structural defects or certain neurological conditions. Unfortunately, prevention of these disorders is not feasible.

What are the Causes of Organic Voice Disorders?

Various reasons can lead to the development of organic voice disorders. They include:


Abnormal tissue growth on the vocal cords can hinder their normal functioning. There are several types of growths, including fluid-filled sacs known as cysts, callous-like bumps called nodules, damaged tissue known as lesions, areas of chronic inflammation called granulomas, and small blister-like growths known as polyps.

Swelling and Inflammation

Vocal cord inflammation can result from various factors, such as allergies, respiratory infections (such as laryngitis caused by a severe cold), surgery, or acid reflux. Laryngitis, which refers to the inflammation of the larynx, can cause chronic inflammation and is a significant contributing factor.

Nerve Issues

Some medical conditions, such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, myasthenia gravis, ALS, and Huntington’s disease, can impact the nerves that regulate the vocal cords.

Hormone Disorders

Voice disorders can occur due to various medical conditions associated with the endocrine system, such as hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, estrogen deficiency, testosterone imbalance, and growth hormone deficiency.

Functional Voice Disorders

Repetitive or excessive use of the voice can lead to vocal disorders. These conditions can cause hoarseness, breathiness, and reduced vocal range, making it difficult to speak or sing. Examples of such misuse or overuse of the voice include:

• Shouting at concerts
• Speaking for prolonged periods without proper rest
• Forcing the voice to produce sounds that are outside of its natural range

Other factors contributing to the condition include persistent coughing, tobacco consumption, and excessive alcohol intake. The repeated abuse of vocal cords may cause calluses or blisters, also known as nodes or polyps. These can alter the sound of your voice, and in severe cases, the vocal cords can tear and lead to a hemorrhage and a total loss of voice.

How to Treat Voice Disorders

Treating a voice disorder depends on its underlying cause. Various treatments are available for voice disorders, including:

Oral Medication

Treating voice issues that stem from underlying organic conditions can be facilitated by administering medications such as antacids for reflux and hormone replacement therapy to correct deficiencies in thyroid, sex, or growth hormones.

Injectable Medicine

If you experience muscle spasms in your vocal cords, injecting Botox can help relax them. Injecting fillers like fat into the cords’ folds can also be beneficial if they do not close properly.

Medical Surgery

Nodes, polyps, and other growths may require surgery to restore proper vocal function, and if you have a cancerous tumor, additional treatment, such as radiation therapy, may be necessary.

Changes in Lifestyle

To effectively deal with vocal abuse, lifestyle changes can be beneficial. Resting your voice and speaking in a lower volume can help. Additionally, performing exercises that relax the vocal cords and surrounding muscles can help alleviate symptoms. It is also essential to warm up before speaking extensively and stay hydrated while talking. These tips can go a long way in improving your vocal health.

Speech Therapy

A speech-language pathologist is a healthcare specialist specializing in diagnosing and treating vocal and language disorders. They are trained to provide various exercises and techniques to help individuals improve their verbal abilities and communication skills. In particular, they can offer specific vocal exercises to target and strengthen the muscles involved in speaking and advise on how to modify speaking behaviors, such as timing breaths to ensure adequate power for vocalizations. Working with a speech-language pathologist can improve individuals’ ability to communicate effectively and confidently.

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