A voice disorder is typically characterized by a hoarse voice or frequent laryngitis (loss of voice). Sometimes the voice sounds too loud or too soft, too high (squeaky), or too low (deep/gravely) or nasal. Often extra effort is required to produce voice. Misuse or abuse of the voice can lead to chronic hoarseness and result in vocal nodules, which are callus-like growths on the vocal folds. Referral to an ear, nose and throat (ENT) physician is always recommended before a speech/voice evaluation.
Vocal hoarseness is often a result of:
- Vocal misuse
- Vocal abuse
Sources of vocal abuse
- Shouting or screaming
- Speaking with excessive force or “pushing”
- Talking too much
- Constant throat-clearing or coughing
- Straining the voice to imitate noises like a car and plane engines, sirens, and screeching brakes
Sources of vocal misuse
- Speaking too loudly
- Speaking too high- or low-pitched
- Talking “over” background noise
- Prolonged duration of talking
How you can help reduce vocal abuse and misuse
- Identify instances of vocal abuse and misuse.
- Discourage loud, effortful speaking.
- Suggest substitutes for voice use.
- Discourage making non-speech noises.
- Eliminate sources of background noise.
- Reduce the amount of talking.
- Reward the use of good vocal habits.
- Be a good model.
- See your pediatrician and/or ENT physician for a medical consultation.