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A Guide to Voice Disorder Symptoms and Treatment

If you're one of the millions of people in the USA suffering from a voice disorder, there are a variety of medical treatments that can help. From vocal therapy to surgery, there are many options when it comes to treating your condition. Vocal therapy is often the first line of defense for voice disorders and can include exercises such as humming or speaking into a straw. Surgery is also an option for more severe cases of voice disorders and can involve removing abnormal tissue or changing the shape of the vocal cords so that sound can pass through them more easily.

Voice disorders are conditions that affect the vocal cords, which can make it difficult to produce sounds to speak. A voice disorder can cause a range of challenges, from mild hoarseness, a quivering voice, a change of voice pitch to complete loss of voice. Common types of voice disorders include spasmodic dysphonia, vocal fold paralysis, and laryngeal cancer, among many others. Understanding the various types of voice disorders can help you identify when something is wrong with your own or a loved one’s voice and when it is time to seek appropriate medical attention.

No matter the type of voice disorder you have, it is important to seek help when you notice any changes in your voice. Although there is not a one-size-fits-all treatment for every voice disorder, there are various treatments available that can improve your symptoms and quality of life. 

Spasmodic dysphonia (SD) is an involuntary movement disorder that affects the muscles controlling the vocal cords. It causes sudden jerking or squeezing of the muscles around the vocal folds, resulting in strained speech and difficulty speaking for long periods of time. While there is no known cause for SD, treatments such as botulinum toxin therapy and surgery have shown to be effective in some cases.

Vocal fold paralysis can cause breathy or weak speech and difficulty controlling pitch, among other symptoms. Vocal fold paralysis can occur when the muscles controlling the vocal cords are unable to move freely, resulting in breathy or hoarse speech. This condition can be caused by trauma to the larynx, viral infections, thyroid disease, stroke and even tumors. Treatment for vocal fold paralysis typically involves speech therapy to help improve communication and muscle re-education exercises that focus on strengthening weakened muscles.

Surgery can sometimes be done to correct this issue, although conservative treatments such as speech therapy or voice prosthesis may be used first. Speech therapists can help with managing spasms associated with vocal fold paralysis and restoring the range of your voice. 

Laryngeal cancer is a type of voice disorder that affects the larynx (aka voice box). The most common symptom of laryngeal cancer is a persistent hoarseness or change in your speaking voice. Other signs may include difficulty swallowing, shortness of breath or coughing up blood. Treatment for laryngeal cancer typically involves surgery, radiation therapy, or chemotherapy and depends on the stage of the cancer at diagnosis. After treatment is completed, you may require further support from speech therapists to help with speech intelligibility and vocal range. 

No matter the type of voice disorder you have, it's important to seek medical help as soon as possible. If left untreated, voice disorders can worsen, causing further issues and possibly even permanent damage to your vocal cords. However, with proper treatment, many people are able to improve their quality of life by regaining their voices. 

If you are experiencing any changes in your speaking voice such as hoarseness or difficulty talking that lasts longer than two weeks, it’s important to seek medical attention right away. Your doctor can help diagnose whether you have a voice disorder and recommend the most appropriate treatment options available.  With early detection and proper management, voice disorders can be effectively managed and treated so that your quality of life is not affected.  With accurate information about understanding voice disorders and available treatments, you can take steps towards improving your speaking voice and ensuring that it remains healthy for years to come. 

If you're concerned about any changes in your voice or believe you may be suffering from a voice disorder in Stansbury Park or West Valley, Utah, don't hesitate to reach out to Dr. Alan Jones for Ear, Nose and Throat Services, we can evaluate your situation and recommend treatments that best suit your needs. With the right support from ENT Utah, you can regain control of your voice and start feeling like yourself again!

DISCLAIMER: This article is not intended to replace professional medical advice. Please consult your doctor for any medical concerns.