What Are Voice Disorders?
Voice disorders can be defined as problems involving abnormal quality, abnormal loudness, or pitch, regarding the sound produced by the larynx, more commonly known as the voice box. Most voice disorders are usually caused by factors that are not life threatening and are typically readily treatable. Symptoms of voice disorders may include: hoarseness, a harsh or rough sounding voice, a breathy voice, a reduction in one’s pith range, reduction in loudness, regression in quality of the voice with continued use throughout the day, loss of voice, as well as increased effort to speak and/or sing. Some voice disorders may be related to an underlying medical problem, such as those which may develop due to an underlying neurological problem, injury to the larynx, or those which may be associated with cancer of the larynx. Most problems with the voice however, are experienced when an individual has been abusing their voice which then results in irritation of the vocal folds which may then result a problem with one’s voice.
Excessive Use Of The Voice
Voice production is the result of the right and left vocal cords vibrating against each other. Chronic vocal abuse such as excessive hard and loud talking, excessive shouting or yelling, can eventually result in structural defects, or irregular areas of tissue, which can disrupt the normal functioning of the vocal cords. Such defects may include nodules, polyps, or cysts, will interfere with the vibrating ability of vocal folds, thus contributing a change in the sound produced by vibrating vocal cords. These problems are often made worse by the presence of acid reflux, which compounds the problem by contributing to further irritation of the vocal cords.
Professional Voice Users
Anyone could experience a voice disorder at any time in their life, especially if they have been using their voice excessively for an extended period of time. This is especially true of professional voice users, who are individuals who rely on their voice in order to perform the essential aspects of their job, inclusive of teachers, coaches, sales people, and courtroom lawyers. Accordingly, people in such occupations are more likely to experience vocal problems due to the strain of extensive and often inappropriate use.
Performance Voice Users
Performers, such as singers, actors, and radio/TV announcers are a unique category of professional voice users, who are often using their voice while trying to maintain an active and frequently hectic performance schedule. During such stressful periods, it is not unusual for the performer to notice even a subtle change in their voice which may be contributing to reduction in quality, fatigue, loudness, and/or singing range. Such disorders can interrupt a recording or show schedule, a film project, or if severe enough may threaten one’s career, if not treated quickly. However, if evaluated and treated appropriately, some voice disorders may not sideline the performer indefinitely or even at all, since many voice problems may only require modest medical management inclusive of a short course of voice therapy. The key to preventing more severe damage to the voice is early evaluation and treatment.
Dr. Amato, a specialist in the evaluation and treatment of voice disorders, understands the demands of the performer and other professional voice user who may be experiencing a problem with their voice. Dr. Amato is a speech language pathologist with extensive musical experience, who is especially trained in treatment of voice disorders, and uses his musical background in helping vocal performers regain the use of their voice so they may continue to pursue their life’s work.
Dr. Amato works closely with each person’s Laryngologist (ENT specialist in voice disorders), to diagnose the nature and severity of the patient’s voice disorder in order to develop an appropriate, individualized treatment plan for each patient.