Voice disorders

Facts and tips

Acid reflux is a common cause of hoarseness, and can occur in the throat even if you don’t feel heartburn or stomach symptoms.

Emotion, stress, reduced water intake, and insufficient sleep can all affect the voice.

Avoid chronic throat clearing, because it can hurt your voice. Instead try swallowing your saliva or sipping water to get rid of the irritation you are feeling.

Answer questions on the Voice Handicap Index-10 and the Reflux Symptom Index to pinpoint symptoms that may indicate that you have a voice or reflux problem.

Many people develop a voice problem related to an upper respiratory infection, other laryngeal changes, or phonotraumatic behaviors, such as yelling or speaking for long periods. It is important to see an otolaryngologist if you notice changes in your voice to rule out any physical pathology that may be contributing to your voice problem. Some of the vocal fold pathologies that I address include:

  • Nodules, polyps, or cysts
  • Laryngopharyngeal reflux
  • Paresis, paralysis or bowing
  • Muscle tension dysphonia
  • Vocal aging
  • Scarring or sulcus vocalis
  • Spasmodic dysphonia
  • Paradoxical vocal fold motion (cough, breathing difficulty)
  • Refer to the neurological disorders page for other illnesses

With a perceptual-acoustic speech-voice evaluation, I can determine whether the way you speak is a cause or an effect of the voice problem (or both) and whether therapy is a good treatment option for you. I also perform videostroboscopy if you have not had a recent laryngeal imaging examination, in order to rule out any anatomic or physiologic problem. Some areas to work on in therapy include vocal hygiene, head/neck relaxation, and breath support.