Voice Disorders

What are Voice Disorders?

When a voice is misused or abused over a period of time, various disorders can develop. Vocal abuse occurs in any activity that strains or injures the vocal cords, such as excessive talking, screaming or yelling, coughing, inhaling irritants, or smoking. Vocal misuse occurs when someone consistently speaks too loudly or at an abnormally high or low pitch. Continuous abuse or misuse can damage the vocal cords and cause temporary or permanent changes in the voice, and possible loss of voice.

Common Voice Disorders

Following are some of the more common voice disorders:

Other voice disorders include:

  • Gastroesophageal or Laryngopharyngeal reflux disease
  • Poor speaking technique
  • Vocal cord paralysis
  • Throat cancer

What Are the Symptoms?

Symptoms vary widely and are dependent upon the way the voice is used as well as the resulting disorder. If you experience vocal change or hoarseness for more than 2 weeks, be sure to consult with your physician.

Causes of Vocal Disorders

Vocal disorders can be temporary or permanent, minor or severe. A temporary disorder, i.e., laryngitis, can result from yelling too much at a sporting event. Other disorders can develop after years of the wear and tear of vocal performance. Other times, disorders can result from a person, consciously or subconsciously, using their voice in an unnatural way – either speaking too loudly all the time, or speaking at an unnaturally high or low pitch.

Diagnosing Vocal Disorders

If you experience symptoms for more than 2 weeks, consult with your physician. He/she will begin to determine the cause of your symptoms by reviewing your medical history and performing a physical exam. Further tests and diagnostics will be prescribe depending on what type of disorder your doctor suspects.

The Voice Center of the University Otolaryngology Associates has a computer integrated system that allows doctors to perform a simple, office-based exam known as video stroboscopy. The system produces digital images, which are reviewed by the doctor to diagnose the condition and prescribe the best treatment plan. The system is especially helpful in the early detection and treatment of vocal cord lesions.

Treatment Options

Voice Therapy

The best way to reverse conditions of vocal abuse and misuse is to correct the vocal pattern that has created the disorder. Learning good vocal technique can reduce the amount of pressure put on the vocal cords. Botulinum toxcin injections can also be used to treat voice disorders.


Whenever possible, our specialists use minimally-invasive procedures, such as microsurgery, to treat vocal disorders. More about surgery for voice disorders

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