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You may have a voice disorder if you have a problem with pitch, volume, tone, and other qualities of your voice. These problems occur when your vocal cords don't vibrate normally.
Your voice is the sound that air makes when it is forced out of your lungs and passes over your vocal cords. Vocal cords are the 2 folds of tissue inside your larynx, also called the voice box. The vibration of those cords is what produces speech.
Examples of voice disorders include:
For normal speech, your vocal cords need to touch together smoothly inside your larynx. Anything that interferes with vocal cord movement or contact can cause a voice disorder. Many voice disorders can be cured with treatment when diagnosed early.
Voice disorders can be caused by many factors. In some cases, the cause of a voice disorder is not known. Possible causes can include:
If you have a voice disorder, your voice may:
You may have tension or pain in your throat while speaking, or feel like your voice box is tired. You may feel a "lump" in your throat when swallowing, or feel pain when you touch the outside of your throat.
If you have a voice change that lasts for a few weeks, your healthcare provider may send you to see a throat specialist called an otolaryngologist (Ears, Nose and Throat specialist or ENT). An otolaryngologist will ask you about your symptoms and how long you've had them. He or she may examine your vocal cords and your larynx using certain tests. These may include:
Treatment for a voice disorder depends on what's causing it. Treatment may include:
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your healthcare provider:
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