About Voice Problems
Voice problems can occur at any age, from childhood to later life, and can range from mild hoarseness (dysphonia) or throat discomfort to complete voice loss (aphonia).
Voice disorders are usually multifactorial in nature and can be influenced by:
1. Environmental and lifestyle factors such as poor hydration, smoking, and dry atmospheres.
2. Physical causes such as acid reflux, vocal cord nodules/polyps, vocal cord paralysis or cancer.
3. Psychological causes such as emotional distress or excessive stress.
4. Vocal misuse or abuse which can occur through frequent shouting or coughing or when having to raise the voice for long periods of time, especially over background noise. For this reason, professional voice users such as teachers, lecturers, preachers, actors, singers, call centre workers and public speakers are often prone to voice disorders.
Speech & Language Therapy for Voice Disorders
Voice therapy can be very effective at improving or resolving a variety of voice disorders. Sometimes, all that is needed is an Assessment & Advice* appointment to provide education about the nature of the problem and guidance on how to make some simple lifestyle changes. In other cases a course of therapy sessions may be required in order to undo any unhelpful patterns of voice use or to reduce excess muscle tension through Laryngeal Manual Therapy or Myofascial Release.
The prevention of voice disorders is always preferable to trying to resolve the problem once it has begun. For this reason training an be provided to companies, schools and teacher-training colleges to educate staff and students in how to use their voices safely and effectively in their professions.
*An assessment of the vocal cords by an ENT Consultant is an essential part of diagnosing any voice problem and is a necessary precursor to any treatment provided by a Speech & Language Therapist. The ENT Consultant will be able to examine your vocal cords and determine whether there is any abnormality in structure or movement. If you have any kind of voice problem, you can ask your GP for a referral to an ENT Consultant or you can attend a pre-ENT Speech & Language Therapy assessment, after which a report will be written to your G.P to request the referral for you. If you require further information about how to obtain an ENT referral or why this is necessary, please click here to enquire.