I have been hoarse for awhile and it doesn't seem to be getting any better. Should I see a doctor?
Yes, definately. Hoarseness that continues for more that a week needs to be investigated by a medical voice specialist. Make an appointment with and Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) specialist, your Primary Care Physician (PCP) or your allergist. There are many different causes of hoarseness. Speech Pathologists always require an examination of the laryngeal area from a medical specialist before seeing a patient for a voice evaluation. This provides diagnostic information and may be the catalyst to prevent a serious problem. Note: Check your insurance policy about speech therapy referral provisions.
My voice has been weak and breathy since my surgery. What can be done?
Make an appointment with an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) doctor for a laryngeal examination. Surgical procedures generally require a breathing tube that's placed into the airway and extends through the area of the vocal folds. This tube may impact the nerves and tissues in the vocal area including the vocal folds and may result in a weak voice and persistent hoarseness. The ENT usually refers patients to a Speech Pathologist who provides vocal exercises to strengthen the laryngeal muscls and helps to restore the voice.
Why does my voice sound so bad when I have a cold (allergy, infected sinuses or other transient medical issue)?
The vocal folds swell in response to viral agents. This may disrupt the ability of the folds to close completely and makes them less flexible. The result is hoarseness that should clear as the ilness clears.
I have a persitent cough (throat clearing). Could that cause my hoarseness?
Coughing and throat clearing are two of the most harmful things you can do to your voice. You can cough once or sing for thirty minutes! Coughing and throat clearing slap the vocal folds together causing irritation and sometimes injury. Persistent coughing and throat clearing deserve medical attention to prevent injury or pervasive hoarseness problems.
Do hormonal changes affect my voice?
Hormones can significantly influence the vocal tissues by causing increased dryness and/or thickening of the vocal tissues. The type of vocal change relects the type of hormonal problem. If you suspect you have vocal problems resulting from a hormonal imbalance, you should contact your Promary Care Physician (PCP), an Endocronologist or and Ear, Nose and throat (ENT) specializng in voice care.
Does my voice problem come from my talking or from my singing?
Normal voice use is about three to four hours per day. Voice problems that are "hyperfunctional" (the result of over-activity) may occur from excessive talking, singing or both. It is important to manage voice use time and to understand the proper voice use techniques to insure safe talking and singing.
I sound like I'm being strangled when I talk, and it's getting worse. Is there help?
There are many voice disorders with a symptom of a "strained, strangled" sound. One disorder is spasmodic dysphonia. This voice disorer is easy to diagnose but difficult to determine the underlying cause. One effective medical intervention for this specific vocal disorder is Botox*. Make an appointment with and Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) doctor who specializes in voice disorders. Speech Pathologists specializing in professional vocie care can help you find information on these medical voice specialists.
How long will it take to fix my voice?
It is not uncommon to see significant improvement or resolution with four to six months of therapy. The amount of time required depends on the type of problem, patient cooperation, treatment compliance and co-morbid or accompanying disorders.
Do I have to stop singing until my voice is well?
The anwer to this question is based on the nature of the problem and requires the professional expertise of a trained voice care specialist. Reduced voice use always allows your voice to heal more quickly. Under no circumstances should you use a voice for talking or singing following surgery or if you have had a vocal hemorrhage.
Is hoarseness related to my chose profession?
Hoarseness results from illness, overuse, misuse, or vocal injury. Some professions require greater amounts of voice use or more strenuous voice use than other professoions. In addiation to your job, the way you use your voice ahd how well you take care of your voice will impact your vocal helath.
Why would acid reflux (LPRD-laryngopharyngeal reflux disease) affect my voice?
The upper valve to the esophagus lies directly aove the vocal folds. Reflux is stomach acid leading from the esophageal sphincter (LPRD) that burns or irritataes the vocal area (throat and windpipe). The result of this irritation may include swelling, redness and tissue change. Reflux disease is now believed to be a cause of laryngeal cancer in non-smokers. Seek medical advice from your PCP, ENT or gastroenterologist if you feel you have reflux problems. Your speech pathologist will help you manage associated vocal symtoms.