7 Signs of Voice Disorders and How Speech Therapy Can Help
Voice disorders affect many children and adults in the United States. More than half of all the children with voice disorders receive speech therapy for their disorder.
Speech therapy is an important step for people with voice disorders. It may even prevent the necessity for voice surgery or other invasive procedures.
How do you know if you or your child needs voice therapy?
Keep reading for 7 signs of voice disorders and how voice therapy can help with those disorders.
1. Weak or Quivering Voice
One tell-tale sign of a voice disorder is a weak or a quivering voice. This happens because of the throat being constricted – willingly or unwillingly.
A quivering or weak voice can be common in those with spasmodic voice disorders. Spasmodic dysphonia affects over 50,000 people in North America.
To combat a spasmodic voice disorder, a speech therapist will work with the patient to control their breathing during speech. They’ll also instruct the patient how to place their tongue to speak more efficiently.
For those with severe disorders, voice therapy may be added to medical procedures depending on the doctor’s diagnosis.
2. Hoarse Voice Disorders
If you’re losing your voice or have a hoarse voice, chances are your vocal cords are swollen. This is why we sound hoarse after getting over a bad cough or sore throat.
If voice hoarseness or a sudden loss of voice occurs without illness, it may have been caused by voice abuse or vocal cord paralysis.
If your voice is hoarse, stay away from cigarettes, smoking, drinking alcohol or eating spicy foods. You can help a hoarse voice by resting your vocal cords and avoiding yelling or talking/singing too loud.
Voice therapy can help those who’ve had a hoarse voice for a long period. A speech pathologist will instruct healthy vocal behavior and identify harmful behaviors.
If the hoarseness is caused by nodules or polyps, surgery may be recommended alongside lost voice treatment.
3. Strained or Choppy Voice
A strained or choppy impaired voice can also be a sign of spasmodic dysphonia. This affects the muscles in your larynx, more commonly known as your voice box.
It may be harder to identify symptoms as they tend to come on slowly over a long period. You may notice a strained or choppy voice only once in a while, and observe it getting worse or more frequent over time.
The medical treatment for spasmodic dysphonia is injecting botox to your vocal folds. This makes them weaker, which helps you speak normally.
Along with injections, voice therapy can help you produce a more efficient, less painful voice.
4. Breathy Voice
Poor function of the vocal cords can result in a breathy sounding voice. This may be caused by a benign tumor, polyp, or larynx/thyroid cancer.
A breathy voice is also another sign of spasmodic dysphonia. It could also be caused by paralyzed vocal cords.
Assuming that your breathy voice isn’t caused by a tumor that needs to be removed, voice therapy is a great solution. Vocal cord paralysis is one of the most common reasons to participate in voice therapy.
In this case, a speech pathologist will teach the patient how to compensate for their paralyzed vocal cords. This includes working on your pitch, breathing, and positioning of your head when you speak.
5. Pain While Speaking/Singing
Pain or discomfort while speaking or singing is often associated with muscle tension dysphonia. This is caused by misuse of the muscles around your voice box.
Muscle tension dysphonia can occur on its own, or be caused by a polyp or nodules on the vocal cords. On it’s own its called primary muscle tension dysphonia, and it’s called secondary muscle tension dysphonia when it’s caused by other factors.
Primary muscle tension dysphonia could occur because of allergies, other illnesses, or a significant increase in vocalization. It could also be caused by stress or other emotional events.
Secondary muscle tension dysphonia occurs when you overcompensate for underlying issues. For example, you have a nodule on your vocal cord so you use more force when speaking or singing.
Voice therapy is highly recommended to treat muscle tension dysphonia. Therapists can customize your voice therapy treatment depending on the type and severity of your muscle tension dysphonia.
To treat primary muscle tension dysphonia, speech therapists first try to identify what affects your voice. Once these triggers are identified, the therapist can put a plan in place to overcome those triggers.
With secondary muscle tension dysphonia, both the underlying condition and the compensation for that condition are examined. Just because the surgery or medication fixed the underlying problem, doesn’t mean the compensation won’t continue.
Voice therapy helps break the speech habits that you gained when compensating for your condition.
6. Vocal Fatigue
Vocal fatigue is a voice disturbance common in those who use their voice a lot. Professors, singers, and others whose profession it is to speak commonly suffer from vocal fatigue.
Overuse of vocal cords can result in long-term damage. If you suffer from vocal fatigue, you must find a voice therapy program.
A voice therapist will help you learn to speak in a way that’s less harmful to your vocal cords. You may be able to reverse some damage that’s already been done.
7. Change in Voice After Trauma/Surgery
Trauma to your vocal cords can cause an array of voice disorders. A popular example of this comes from Drew Lynch, who developed a stutter after being hit in the throat with a softball.
Even surgery for thyroid cancer, nodules, and polyps can leave you with a voice disorder.
No matter what type of voice disorder you develop, voice therapy can help reduce the amount of stress on your voice and assist in the healing of your vocal cords.
Let’s Talk About it
Now you know how to identify the signs of a voice disorder. You also realize how important voice therapy can be in protecting vocal cords and speech habits.
All you need to do now is enroll in voice therapy. Great Speech is an online voice therapy service that will customize therapy to meet your needs and work with your schedule.
Schedule your free consultation with us today!