Information On Voice Problems

DSCF0229 Kaylee and Gwyn 2Our voice is often taken for granted but plays a crucial role in helping us to communicate at home, at work and in many social situations. Our voice helps us make first impressions on people and helps us communicate clearly and effectively. It also helps us express ourselves and how we sound is usually a reflection of how we may be feeling.

The human vocal folds are made up of delicate and intricate structures which require fine control. Any interference with the structure or physiology of the vocal folds can result in a voice problem.

What are symptoms of voice problems?

  • Discomfort or tightness in the throat
  • A feeling that talking is effortful and tiring
  • Breathlessness while talking
  • Difficulty projecting
  • Hoarseness
  • Voice breaks and disappearance while talking
  • Pitch control difficulties (voice is too squeaky, too low or flat)
  • Muffled quality


What are some causes of voice problems?
The symptoms of voice problems can be associated with changes in the structures of the vocal folds. Some structural changes may include: swelling, inflammation, vocal nodules, polyps and cyst. In many cases, the vocal folds can appear perfectly normal but the technique in which the person uses his or her voice may be too forceful on the vocal folds.

The voice problem that the person is experiencing is usually triggered by a combination of small problems. It could be related to the way or amount the person uses his or her voice, the environment in which the voice is used and increased levels of emotional stress and tension. Sometimes an unhealthy lifestyle or medical conditions such as sinus problems, reflux, hay fever or viral infection of the throat, can also contribute to the voice problem. In some cases, voice problems can be indicative of a serious disease (e.g. cancer).


Should I get my voice problem treated?
Most of the time, voice problems can be prevented or remediated if detected early. If a voice change occurs for more than 6 weeks, it is strongly advised to seek medical advice from an otolaryngologist (Ear, Nose and Throat doctor) or a speech therapist who specialises in treating voice problems.


How are voice problems treated?
The speech therapist can teach vocal techniques that allow the person to use the voice more effectively and efficiently. They will also discuss different ways of taking care of the voice. The speech therapist may also make a referral to an otolaryngologist to further evaluate the structure of the vocal folds and how they move during talking. In some cases, surgery may be advised by the Otolaryngologist.