The human voice provides the basic sound for speech and singing. It expresses much of the meaning of what we want to say. Our voice tells other people a lot about our emotions, personality and physical and emotional health. A voice disorder is a condition affecting features of your voice that will affect your ability to use your voice normally.
It can affect one or all of the aspects of your voice , such as:
Pitch – varying between high and low during speech.
Volume – varying between loud and soft. Loudness during speech varies to show emphasis and emotion.
Quality – what the voice sounds like, for example a voice may be described as clear, croaky, strained, hoarse, breathy or rough.
Resonance – where the focus of sound comes from, for example someone may sound like they are speaking through a blocked nose (hyponasal) while other people may sound like they have too much air coming down their nose during speech (hypernasal).
Anyone, irrespective of age or gender can be affected by a voice disorder, however people who are required to use their voice excessively for work (eg: singers, auctioneers, teachers) are more likely to develop a voice disorder, particularly if care is not taken.
A Speech Pathologist can provide education about how voice works and how to care for your voice; and provide treatment to maximise safe vocal usage.
What causes a voice disorder?
- Medical issues, such as neurological disorders
- Vocal usage, such as using voice excessively for work
- Environmental issues, such as working where there is dust or fumes
- Poor vocal hygiene (lack of water, excessive throat clearing or coughing)
- Stress/emotional issues
When should you see a Speech Pathologist?
- If you have noticed your voice quality change over a period of time
- If you experience a painful, effortful voice
- If you find it difficult to participate in normal speaking situations
- If you have pain/muscle tightness around your neck
It is recommended that you see an Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist (ENT) before starting speech pathology to rule out any medical pathology.
This information was provided by Speech Pathology Australia. for more information, go to www.speechpathologyaustralia.org.au