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What are the Symptoms of Vocal Disorder?

You could have a voice disorder if you have an issue with the tone, volume, pitch, or other voice qualities. These issues occur within your vocal cords because they don’t vibrate normally. Since your voice is derived from the sound of air being forced from your lungs, it passes across your vocal cords, which are folds of tissue inside your voice box. The vibration of these two cords is what produces the sound of your voice.

Keep reading to answer the question of what are the causes of voice disorders?!

What are the Causes of Voice Disorders?

To have normal speech, your cords must smoothly touch inside your larynx. If anything interferes with cord movements or has contact with your vocal cords, then you could have a voice disorder. Luckily, when diagnosed early, most voice disorders can be cured through various treatment types. Voice disorders are caused by a variety of factors, including the following. In some instances, the cause is unknown.


In some instances, extra tissue you form and build on the vocal cords, which prevents them from working normally. The most common growths include nodules (callus-like bumps), papilloma (wart-like lumps), and cysts (fluid-filled sacs). Another growth type is lesions, which are areas of damaged tissue. In some patients, a band of tissue known as a web can form between the two cords. Additional growths include polyps (small blisters) and granuloma (small sections of chronic inflammation). Growths are the result of many causes such as vocal abuse, cancer, an injury, or illness.


Many factors can cause vocal cord swelling and inflammation including vocal abuse, alcohol abuse, smoking, exposure to chemicals, some medicines, GERD, allergies, respiratory illness, and surgery.


Disorders impacting the thyroid hormone, growth hormones, or male and female hormones can result in voice disorders.

Nerve Issues

Some health conditions can impact the nerves that control the vocal cords including Huntington's disease, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, myasthenia gravis, and multiple sclerosis. Laryngitis and certain surgeries can also harm the nerves.

Vocal Abuse

Vocal cords can be strained by applying tension when speaking. This can cause issues in the throat muscles, thus impacting the voice. Vocal abuse can answer the question of what are the causes of vocal disorder? Vocal abuse is anything that harms or strains the cords including coughing, shouting, talking, and smoking. Vocal abuse can cause the cords to get polyps and nodes which change the way your voice sounds. In the most severe situations, a vocal cord can burst or break from abuse, which causes hemorrhaging, and you could lose your voice permanently. For this reason, vocal cord bleeding must be treated immediately.

What are the Symptoms of a Voice Disorder?

If you notice any of the following symptoms, you likely have a vocal disorder and may need to go to a doctor:

  • Choppy or strained sound
  • Have a quivering sound
  • Hoarseness
  • Too high or low of a pitch
  • Weak, breathy, or whispery

You might also notice pain or tension in your throat when speaking or feel a tired voice box. You could also experience a lump when swallowing or pain on the exterior of your throat.

Voice Disorder Treatments

Voice disorder cause and treatments run together with specific medical procedures fixing different problems. If you have a voice change that lasts for several weeks then you may need to visit an ear, nose, and throat specialist. The doctor will ask about your symptoms and when they first appeared. They could also check your larynx and vocal cord with different tests. The most common voice disorder cause and treatments include:


Muscle spasms in the throat can be treated with a shot of botulinum toxin. In some instances, your doctor will inject fat or other fillers directly into the vocal cords to help them shut.

Lifestyle Changes

Many lifestyle changes can be followed to stop or reduce symptoms including not yelling and regularly resting your voice if you sing or speak often. If you smoke, quitting will help eliminate many problems.


Several disorders are caused by a factor that can be treated through medicine. For example, antacid medicine is the best treatment for GERD or hormone therapy for thyroid problems.

Speech Therapy

Working with a speech-language pathologist can assist with some voice disorders. Therapy commonly includes changes in speaking behaviors and exercises to work the vocal cords, including timing deep breaths, so they power your speech.


If your doctor deems there are tissue growths, then you may need surgery or radiation therapy.