Voice is the sound produced when air passes through your larynx, aka voice box. Speech is coordinated muscle actions refining your voice into understandable sounds. Any problems with your voice, or speech, hampers you ability to communicate with others.
In your larynx there are two bands of muscle that vibrate to make sound, what’s referred to as vocal cords. Not all sound produced is in the form of speech. And sound production is your own unique voice.
A voice disorder is marked by your vocal cord apparatus failing, thus causing voice problems. Voice disorders can cause you to experience voice problems that produce abnormal pitch, loudness or quality. Hoarseness is an abnormal change in your voice that causes you to sound breathy, raspy or strained.
Some things you do can injure our vocal cords causing voice problems, for instance talking too much, screaming, yelling, incessantly clearing your throat or smoking. A variety of health conditions can lead to voice problems or voice changes as well, such as:
- essential tremor
- laryngeal cancer
- bacterial infection
- chemical irritation
- acid reflux disease
- larynx trauma, injury
- spasmodic dysphonia
- vocal cord hemorrhage
- Wegener’s granulomatosis
- vocal cord paralysis, paresis
- yeast infection of vocal cords
- laryngitis ~ hoarseness, voice loss
- vocal cord lesions ~ nodules, polyps, cysts
- viral infection ~ common cold, influenza respiratory infections
- benign, malignant tumors
- diphtheria produced toxins
- nerve viral infection ~ Lyme disease
- neurotoxins ~ lead, mercury, arsenic poisoning
- neurologic conditions ~ multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease,stroke
Vocal cord paralysis typically creates a soft, breathy voice. Many recover from voice paralysis problems, albeit it may take several months.
Some drugs can also adversely affect the function or sound of your voice, like:
- muscle relaxants
- asthma medication
- high dose of vitamin C
- blood pressure medication
- antihistamines ~ dry out vocal cords
- oral contraceptives ~ vocal cord edema
- estrogen hormone replacement therapy
- ACE inhibitors ~ induces cough, excessive throat clearing
- diuretics ~ drys out your vocal cords’ protective mucus layer
- not enough thyroid replacement medication for hypothyroidism
- anticoagulants ~ increase chances of vocal cord hemorrhage, bruising, polyp formation
Treatment for a voice disorder causing vocal cord problems depends on the cause.
Best method for preserving a healthy voice is early diagnosis for treatment. A otolaryngologist, or ear-nose-throat doctor, is the type of physician who specializes in treating voice associated throat problems.