WHAT IS A VOICE DISORDER?
A voice disorder (clinically called dysphonia
) is a limitation in the use or function of the voice. Voice related diseases and disorders can also be ‚only’ felt as discomfort or pain, or affect other symptoms related to voice use.
HOW CAN I KNOW IF I HAVE A VOICE DISORDER?
In most cases a voice disorder is audible as hoarseness. The term hoarseness is just a symptom related to a problem of voice production, that is the vibration of sound on the level of the vocal folds. We have two vocal folds sitting inside the voice box (larynx). Hoarseness can be an early sign of a more or less serious problem of the larynx or the vocal folds. Another sign of a voice disorder can be strain and pain in the anterior neck, a feeling of a lump in the throat, limited sustainability of the voice, and any kind of discomfort when using the voice for a longer time.
“THE HUMAN VOICE IS
A MUSIC INSTRUMENT
THAT IS USED BY ALL PEOPLE
WITHOUT THE SUPPORT OF TEACHERS,
PRINCIPLES OR RULES.
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