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Conditions We Treat

Voice & Speech

Types of Voice & Speech conditions and treatments available.

Young Asian woman holding throat from voice and speech issues

What are Voice Disorders?

Voice disorders refer to any condition that affects a person’s ability to speak normally. This can include laryngitis, paralyzed vocal cords, and/or a nerve problem that causes the vocal cords to spasm. People with voice disorders often have hoarse, quivering, strained, or choppy voices, and may also experience pain or a lump in the throat when speaking. Treatment for voice disorders depends on the underlying cause and may include speech therapy, medication, or surgery.

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How Does the Voice Work?

The vocal folds, groups of muscle tissue in the larynx, are normally open to allow breathing. When you speak, they close, while air from the lungs makes them vibrate. This produces sound. The size and shape of the vocal folds and surrounding cavities (throat, mouth, and nose) help determine the pitch, volume, and tone of your voice. This is what makes it unique. When illness or disease affects your voice, it can change the pitch, volume, and quality of sound.

What are the Types of Voice Disorders?

There are three main types of voice disorders: functional, organic, and neurologic.

Functional voice disorders are usually caused by bad vocal habits, such as incorrect pitch, loudness, or speaking rate. They can also be caused by psychological factors, such as stress, anxiety, or depression. Most functional voice disorders can be helped with behavioral therapy.

Organic voice disorders are caused by problems with the physical structure of the vocal cords or other parts of the voice box. They can be caused by infection, nerve damage, tumors, or other growths. Many organic voice disorders can be helped with surgery.

Neurologic voice disorders are caused by problems with the nerves that control the muscles of the vocal cords. They can be caused by stroke, Parkinson’s disease, or other neurological conditions. There is no specific treatment for neurologic voice disorders, but some symptoms can be improved with speech therapy.

What Are The Causes And Symptoms Of Voice Disorders?

One of the most common voice problems is vocal cord abuse. This occurs when you use your voice improperly; shouting, whispering, and frequent throat clearing cause strain and fatigue of the vocal cords. Continued abuse can lead to permanent voice damage and a number of serious medical issues such as laryngitis, polyps, cysts, and vocal fold swelling.

Other conditions that can affect the voice include upper respiratory infections, acid reflux, and tumors. If you have a voice disorder, it is important to see your ENT specialist so that the cause can be determined and appropriate treatment can be given.

With proper diagnosis and treatment, most voice disorders can be resolved. If you think you may have a voice disorder, schedule an appointment with one of our specialists at Texas ENT & Allergy.

What is Hoarseness?

Hoarseness is a common condition that can result in changes to your voice, making it sound breathy or strained. There may also be alterations such as volume and pitch fluctuations due to the inflammation of the larynx causing this issue with speaking ability.

What Causes Hoarseness?

Hoarseness is the result of a problem with the vocal cords. It can be caused by a variety of different conditions including cold or sinus infections, acute laryngitis, voice misuse or abuse, benign vocal cord lesions, acid reflux, vocal hemorrhage, tobacco and alcohol use, thyroid diseases, cancer, trauma to the voice box, and neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s or spasmodic dysphonia –a chronic vocal cord disorder.

How Is Hoarseness Treated?

Many times, hoarseness clears up on its own without any sort of medical intervention. Many patients take a wait-and-see approach, treating symptoms with home remedies that include resting the voice, staying hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids, and using a humidifier to add moisture to the air.

Making certain lifestyle changes—eliminating spicy foods, alcohol and caffeine from the diet, giving up cigarettes, avoiding activities that cause vocal cord strain such as shouting, whispering, or using inappropriate pitch or volume—are all helpful ways to reduce or eliminate the symptoms associated with chronic hoarseness.

Sometimes, a trip to see an ENT specialist is necessary. If hoarseness lasts longer than three weeks, is not accompanied by cold or flu symptoms, affects your ability to swallow or breathe, or otherwise interferes with your livelihood, schedule an appointment with the team atTexas ENT & Allergy.

You will be given a thorough physical examination, including the ears, nose, and throat, and may be given a laryngoscopy or other special test. Treatment depends on the cause and may include medications, surgery, and/or voice therapy.

What is a Videostroboscopy?

A Videostroboscopy is a procedure performed in the office, utilizing state-of-the-art technology, which facilitates the identification of various vocal cord conditions and abnormalities. It provides a magnified view of the larynx, and simulates slow-motion vibration of the vocal cords. This allows the clinician to see any mucosal wave abnormalities and identify any lesions present on the vocal cords. The procedure is quick, easy, and painless, and does not require any anesthesia.

How is Videostroboscopy performed?

Videostroboscopy is performed using a rigid endoscope placed in the mouth or a flexible endoscope passed through the nose. While holding on to the tip of your tongue with gauze, the physician inserts the scope along the tongue towards the back of the mouth. The cords are viewed from this position. The patient is asked to produce sounds at a variety of pitch and loudness levels. The examination is digitally recorded, allowing the patient to view the video following completion. The test lasts only a few minutes and is not painful. In the rare case that a patient cannot tolerate the oral scope, a general anesthetic may be used.

Who is a Candidate for Videostroboscopy?

If you are experiencing the following symptoms, you may be a candidate for videostroboscopy:

  • Hoarseness, breathiness or any other change in voice
  • Vocal fatigue
  • Soreness, tightness, or a burning sensation in the throat
  • The feeling of having something stuck in the throat
  • Frequent cough or throat clearing
  • Acid reflux
African American woman holding throat

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