Voice problems

A voice problem is any problem affecting the production of an individual’s voice from what is considered ‘normal’ for their age and sex. Voice problems can range from mild to severe and can have many different causes. A voice problem can affect the quality, pitch or volume of an individual’s voice.

Common symptoms of voice problems include the voice sounding rough, harsh, breathy or quiet. Individuals with voice problems may also notice their voice problems getting worse over the day. Voice problems will often affect an individual’s ability to communicate effectively.

Voice problems can affect an individual’s ability to communicate effectively in a variety of settings including the home, social and work environments. Our speech and language therapists provide individualised treatment programmes for individuals with voice problems, which will be tailored to their specific needs and abilities.

Speech and language therapy can be extremely beneficial for an individual with voice problems. Speech and language therapy can improve a client’s communication skills and help them to develop coping strategies and management of their voice problem. This may result in a client becoming more confident and therefore more fluent and clear in their production of speech.

See below for the different types of voice problems we treat at SLT UK.

Throat cancer

Throat cancer can affect the larynx and the vocal cords, as well as other areas of the throat cavity. Symptoms of the disease depend on the size of the tumour and where it is located. Our speech and language therapists can support and manage the symptoms of throat cancer.

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Laryngeal surgery

Laryngeal surgery is done following a diagnosis of laryngeal cancer. It may require total or partial removal of the larynx or it may just involve taking the affected tissues away. Our speech and language therapists provide support and treatment before and after laryngeal surgery.

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Vocal cord paralysis

Vocal cord paralysis happens when damage has occurred to the nerves that are attached to the voice box. When these nerves are damaged, the vocal cords do not open and close in the correct way.

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Tension of the vocal cords

Tension of the vocal cords is when both vocal folds do not come together in the correct manner. This is because there are muscles which are pulling them apart at the same time, causing tension.

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Strain of the vocal cords

Strain of the vocal cords occurs when the voice is overused or overworked. This is very common in professional voice users, such as teachers, singers and group leaders.

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Vocal cord nodules

A vocal cord nodule is a lump of tissue which grows on the vocal fold meaning the folds cannot come together and close properly. This affects a person’s ability to produce voice effectively.

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Laryngeal problems

Laryngeal problems are problems which affect the quality of an individual’s voice and their ability to use it ‘normally’ and effectively. Our speech and language therapists can identify the laryngeal problem and provide management and support to patients.

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Dysphonia is the term used for a disorder of the voice. It is an inability to produce sounds using the vocal organs. Patients with dysphonia can either have a very hoarse, rough voice or soft, breathy voice.

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Oesophageal voice

Oesophageal voice is a technique to produce voice after the removal of the voice box. One of our specialist speech and language therapists will train a patient to use oesophageal voice effectively.

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Hoarse voice

Hoarse voice is the term used to describe an abnormal change in voice quality. People with a hoarse voice may experience changes in pitch or volume. Hoarse voice can be caused by a number of conditions or voice problems.

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Weak voice

Weak voice is the term used to describe a weakening of the voice quality, this may be in volume or in resonance. Weak voice can be caused by a number of conditions or voice problems.

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Pitch disorders

Pitch disorder is the term used to describe a change in the perception of voice. A pitch disorder occurs when an individual’s voice is higher than usual or lower than usual. A pitch disorder can be caused by a variety of conditions and voice problems.

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Painful voice

Painful voice is the word used to describe any uncomfortable feeling when talking. The throat may feel scratchy, sore or strained. The pain can range from mild to severe and will commonly get worse throughout the day as the voice is used more.

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Stammering, also known as ‘stuttering’, is a disruption to the flow of speech and can vary in severity depending upon each individual’s difficulty. Our speech and language therapists provide support and treatment to patients that stammer.

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Conditions Voice problems Speech disorders Neurological problems Communication problems Autism spectrum disorder Eating, drinking and swallowing difficulties Head and neck cancer Hearing loss and impairments Learning difficulties Mental health problems Palliative care needs Physical disabilities
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