URL of this page: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/voicedisorders.html

Voice Disorders

Also called: Vocal disorders 

Summary

Voice is the sound made by air passing from your lungs through your larynx, or voice box. In your larynx are your vocal cords, two bands of muscle that vibrate to make sound. For most of us, our voices play a big part in who we are, what we do, and how we communicate. Like fingerprints, each person's voice is unique.

Many things we do can injure our vocal cords. Talking too much, screaming, constantly clearing your throat, or smoking can make you hoarse. They can also lead to problems such as nodules, polyps, and sores on the vocal cords. Other causes of voice disorders include infections, upward movement of stomach acids into the throat, growths due to a virus, cancer, and diseases that paralyze the vocal cords.

Signs that your voice isn't healthy include

  • Your voice has become hoarse or raspy
  • You've lost the ability to hit some high notes when singing
  • Your voice suddenly sounds deeper
  • Your throat often feels raw, achy, or strained
  • It's become an effort to talk

Treatment for voice disorders varies depending on the cause. Most voice problems can be successfully treated when diagnosed early.

NIH: National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders

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  • Quick Statistics From the National Institutes of Health (National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders)

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  • Voice and Aging (American Academy of Otolaryngology--Head and Neck Surgery)

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