Voice Disorders

Adult Service Areas

Treating stuttering (dysfluency), kids playing together

A voice disorder is any abnormality in an individual’s quality, pitch or loudness. There are three main categories of voice disorders among adults:

  1. Medical based
  2. Behaviour based
  3. Psychosocial/Emotional based

Medical based voice disorders arise from specific medical conditions (e.g., Parkinson’s disease), or surgical interventions (e.g., surgery for laryngeal cancer).

At Speech Pathways, we develop a treatment plan that addresses the deficits specific to the medical condition. For example, individuals with Parkinson’s disease require training that focuses on increasing breath support, volume and endurance of steady state phonation.

Behaviour-based voice disorders arise from the abuse or misuse of the voice. Prevalent forms of vocal misuse/abuse include: shouting, loud talking, frequent coughing, habitual throat clearing, smoking, inappropriate pitch (too high or too low), and insufficient hydration. Once an individual has been educated on vocal health and trained on proper vocal use, the symptoms of the voice disorder are often corrected. Future pathology is thus avoided by eliminating the behaviour that caused the voice disorder in the first place.

Psychosocial/emotional based voice disorders arise from unusually high levels of stress, anxiety or depression. These conditions can lead to laryngeal muscular tension which in turn causes a voice disorder. In some cases the individual may actually lose his/her voice altogether or be left with a whisper. Voice therapy is often successful, through pitch and phonation exercises at restoring the voice fully.

Before a Speech-Language Pathologist commences voice evaluation or treatment, an evaluation by an Ear, Nose and Throat Doctor (ENT) is necessary to diagnose the vocal pathology. The Speech-Language Pathologist can then develop an appropriate treatment plan in conjunction with the ENT’s diagnosis.

If you have seen an ENT and voice therapy is the recommendation, contact us! We would love to help you achieve a healthy voice and avoid future problems.