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What are Voice Disorders?
A voice disorder is a change in how the voice sounds. Vocal cords are muscles located in the larynx (voice box) that vibrate when you breathe out, producing the voice. When your vocal cords become swollen or inflamed, develop growths, or can't move as they should, they can't work correctly. This is what causes voice disorders.
Some common voice disorders include:
- Spasmodic dysphonia
- Vocal cord dysfunction
- Polyps, nodules, or cysts on the vocal cords
- Precancerous and cancerous growths
- Vocal cord paralysis or weakness
Symptoms of Voice Disorders
- Voice strain
- Raspy voice
- Pitch changes
- Taking more effort to speak or sing
Causes of Voice Disorders
The most common cause of voice disorders is overuse, such as yelling, singing, or even talking too much. Sometimes, voice disorders result from short-term illnesses like a cold or an infection. They can also be caused by an issue with the structure of the vocal cords.
UR Medicine's Treatments for Voice Disorders
Depending on your voice disorder, you may be referred to a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP). They will likely perform an exam to evaluate your voice and determine the best course of treatment.
Treatment will depend on the specific voice disorder, but may include:
- Rest and liquids
- Voice therapy
- Allergy treatments
- Stopping smoking
- Removal of growths
- KTP laser treatment
- Thyroplasty—surgery that changes the position of the vocal cord
What Sets Us Apart?
UR Medicine Voice Center is the only voice center in Upstate New York with a comprehensive team of voice experts, including ear, nose, and throat (ENT) physicians who are fellowship-trained in voice disorders.
Our speech pathologists have specialized training to evaluate and treat patients with voice, swallowing, and breathing problems and complex conditions such as voice restoration after throat cancer. Our team also includes trained singing voice specialists who are experienced performers, singers, and singing teachers who understand the challenges of being a vocal professional.
Using the latest techniques and therapies, we effectively treat less common voice problems, such as spasmodic dysphonia, essential voice tremor, muscle tension dysphonia, aging voice, and throat cancer and voice box cancer.
We also offer surgical options to improve vocal quality if you have vocal cord paralysis. Using microsurgery, a technique proven to provide the best voice outcome, we remove growths on the vocal cords. We identify the root of your voice disorder, treat it quickly and effectively, and improve your overall vocal health.
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Patient Education & Support
If you have a voice disorder, the following may help with recovery:
- Avoid smoking and stay away from secondhand smoke
- Limit alcohol and caffeine
- Drink plenty of water
- Keep spicy foods out of your diet
- Include a variety of healthy foods in your diet
- Avoid clearing your throat
- Avoid upper respiratory infections