WHAT IS A VOICE DISORDER?

“THE HUMAN VOICE IS
A MUSIC INSTRUMENT
THAT IS USED BY ALL PEOPLE
WITHOUT THE SUPPORT OF TEACHERS,
PRINCIPLES OR RULES.
Denis Diderot



Judgments about healthy or disordered voices are highly subjective. Thus, it can happen that some people consider disturbed voices as healthy, and others consider healthy sounding voices as disturbed. Cultural, esthetical and traditional aspects are influencing our judgments in this respect.

Typical voice disorders comprise symptoms such as hoarseness, roughness, breathiness, limited vocal range, voice breaks, loss of (parts of) voice, often loss of upper range, difficulties of singing in the passagio range, strain in the anterior neck, globus feeling (a lump in the throat), frequent throat clearing, secretions in the throat, dryness, swallowing problems and many more symptoms.

WHAT CAUSES A VOICE DISORDER?

Any change of the vibrational pattern of the vocal folds (synonym: vocal cords/chords) is frequently perceived as hoarseness – and a voice disorder starts with changes of the vibration pattern of the vocal folds. When the structure of the vocal folds is changed in mass, tension, level, rigidity or symmetry, the vibration pattern of the vocal folds become irregular and most likely will cause a voice problem. Then the reason is visible in laryngeal endoscopy and can be determined by a voice specialist who performs endoscopy. However, reasons for vibration disturbances can also be secondary to functional, psychological or neurological aspects, so that the vocal folds do not vibrate regularily without having visible changes. At any rate, there are manifold aspects and reasons for hoarseness where - in most cases - only a professional assessment will lead to a helpful diagnosis of the voice problem. (organic voice disorders, case studies)