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Voice Disorders

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:

  • Allergies
  • Reflux
  • 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.