Voice Disorders

  • Have you ever commented on someone's voice?
  • Or noticed that it sounds hoarse or rough?
  • Sometimes we say that someone "speaks through their nose."

These and many others are ways of describing voice quality.

Both children and adults can have voice problems.
Sometimes, individuals might "lose their voice" or sound "hoarse". For most people, this is associated with a cold or flu. However, this can also occur when the voice has been over-used, for example shouting at a sporting event, talking over noise, or talking for long periods of time as in classroom teaching.

Sometimes there is no apparent cause for the voice problem.

Vocal hoarseness, voice loss, or any other form of a voice problem which lasts or recurs regularly should be investigated medically. In Australia, you need to consult your general practitioner and obtain a referral to see a specialist Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) medical practitioner (otolaryngologist).

Speech pathology is appropriate treatment in many cases, but treatment should not take place without an ENT examination first.

Treatment
Speech pathologists use many different approaches to treat voice problems.

For problems such as "vocal abuse", where the vocal folds may have become swollen and inflamed due to overuse or inappropriate use of the voice, the answer lies in correcting the vocal behaviours causing the problem.

For other problems where no cause can be attributed, the speech pathologist works with the client to help them achieve the best voice possible, using different vocal techniques.

Speech pathologists also work with singing teachers, voice teachers, speech and drama teachers to help them achieve the best possible voice. Speech pathologists work closely with otolaryngologists.

Contact the Communication Disorders Treatment and Research Clinic for a referral if you are concerned about your voice. Assessment and treatment can be arranged as appropriate to an individual's voice problem.