Many of us have experienced a period of temporary voice loss or laryngitis at some point in time. This may have been caused by a virus or an evening of excessive talking, yelling or singing. In many cases, the voice will return to normal on its own. In other cases, a chronic voice problem or voice disorder can develop.
Voice disorders can happen at any age and may be the result of damage to the vocal folds from surgery, disease, aging, or frequent overuse and/or misuse. Common vocal fold pathologies include:
Voice production requires rapid and precise coordination of many muscles, so imbalance or strain can have a significant impact on vocal fold function and voice quality. In many cases, the vocal folds remain perfectly healthy and changes in voice quality or performance are the result of muscle tension dysphonia – a functional voice disorder involving overuse or misuse of the muscles surrounding the vocal folds.
Once a voice disorder is present, starting voice therapy as soon as possible is of benefit. This will help prevent the reinforcement of inefficient voice habits during daily voice use, which could cause the problem to get worse over time. This is especially true if your work depends on your voice.
Complete the self-assessment to determine if you have signs or symptoms of a voice disorder.