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Voice Disorders

Functional Voice Disorders

Functional Dysphonia is a voice disorder caused by physiological function rather than a problem with anatomical structure. Stress, emotion, and psychological conflict are often presumed to cause or exacerbate the symptoms of functional voice disorders. The nature of this disorder may be labeled as one of the following: psychogenic, conversion, tension-fatigue syndrome, hyperkinetic, muscle misuse, or muscle tension dysphonia.

Vocal Hygiene

Vocal hygiene involves the science of vocal health and proper care of the vocal mechanism. Elements of proper vocal hygiene include, but are not limited to, drinking plenty of fluids, avoiding alcoholic beverages, and avoiding yelling and excessive throat-clearing.

Vocal Chord Dysfunction

Vocal cord nodules are benign (noncancerous) growths on both vocal cords that are caused by vocal abuse. Over time, repeated abuse of the vocal cords results in soft, swollen spots on each vocal cord. These spots develop into harder, callous-like growths called nodules. The nodules will become larger and stiffer the longer the vocal abuse continues.

Polyps can take a number of forms. They are sometimes caused by vocal abuse. Polyps appear on either one or both of the vocal cords. They appear as a swelling or bump (like a nodule), a stalk-like growth, or a blister-like lesion. Most polyps are larger than nodules and may be called by other names, such as polypoid degeneration or Reinke's edema. The best way to think about the difference between nodules and polyps is to think of a nodule as a callous and a polyp as a blister.

Everyone has two vocal cords in his or her larynx (voicebox). The vocal cords vibrate during speech to produce voice. If one or both vocal cords are unable to move then the person will experience voice problems and possibly breathing and swallowing problems. This is vocal cord paralysis.

There are different types of vocal cord paralysis. Bilateral vocal cord paralysis involves both vocal cords becoming stuck halfway between open and closed (the paramedian position) and not moving either way. This condition often requires a tracheotomy (an opening made in the neck to provide an airway) to protect the airway when the person eats.

Unilateral vocal cord paralysis is when only one side is paralyzed in the paramedian position or has a very limited movement. It is more common than bilateral involvement. The paralyzed vocal cord does not move to vibrate with the other cord but vibrates abnormally or does not vibrate at all. The individual will run out of air easily. They will be unable to speak clearly or loudly.