Causes of Voice
Laryngitis is a swelling
vocal cords usually due to an infection. A
viral infection (a “cold”) of the upper respiratory track is the most
cause for infection of the voice box. When the vocal cords swell in
vibrate differently, leading to hoarseness. The best treatment for this
condition is to rest or reduce your voice use and stay well hydrated.
most of these infections are caused by a virus, antibiotics are not
It is important to be cautious with your voice during an episode of
because the swelling of the vocal cords increases the risk for serious
such as blood in the vocal cords or formation of vocal cord nodules,
noncancerous growths on the vocal cords are caused by voice misuse or
and from trauma or injury to the vocal cords. These lesions (“bumps”)
vocal cord(s) alter vocal cord vibration. This abnormal vibration
results in hoarseness
and a chronic change in one’s voice quality, including roughness,
and an increased effort to talk. The most common vocal cord lesions
vocal nodules also known as “singer’s nodes” or “nodes” which are
“calluses ” of the vocal cords. They typically occur on both vocal
opposite each other. These lesions are usually treated with voice rest
speech therapy (to improve the speaking technique thus removing the
the vocal cords). Vocal cord polyp(s) or cyst(s) are other common vocal
lesionscaused by misuse, overuse, or trauma
to the vocal cords and
require surgical removal after all nonsurgical treatment options (i.e.,
therapy) have failed.
(backflow of gastric contents) into the throat of stomach acid can
variety of symptoms in the esophagus (swallowing tube) as well as in
throat. Hoarseness (chronic or intermittent), swallowing problems, a
body sensation, or throat pain are common symptoms of gastric acid
of the throat, called laryngopharyngeal reflux disease (LPRD).
and other problems can occur related to problems between the nerves and
within the voice box or larynx. The most common condition is a
weakness of one or both vocal cords. Involvement of both vocal cords is
and is usually manifested by noisy breathing or difficulty getting
while breathing or talking. However, one vocal cord can become
severely weakened (paresis) after a viral infection of the throat,
surgery in the neck or cheek, or for unknown reasons.
The immobile or paralyzed vocal cord typically causes a soft, breathy,
voice due to poor vocal cord closure. Most paralyzed vocal cords will
on their own within several months. Surgical treatment is required if
becomes permanent. Surgery for unilateral vocal cord paralysis involves
positioning of the vocal cord to improve the vibration of the paralyzed
cord with the non-paralyzed vocal cord.
Stroke and other Diseases
impairment -- or aphasia -- occurs in more than a third of people who
stroke on the left side of their brain. Many recover within a few
the stroke, but up to 60% still have language impairments more than six
after a stroke, a condition known as chronic aphasia.
percentage (89%) of people with Parkinson's disease have speech and
voice symptoms, but only 3% to 4% of them receive speech treatment.
Most people with Parkinsons have soft voices because the disease makes
it harder to force the neccesary amount of air through the larynx or
voice box to produce a normal speaking volume, and the vocal cords are
often weakened and don't vibrate adequately to produce sound.
cancer attacks the vocal cords, the voice changes in quality, assuming
characteristics of chronic hoarseness, roughness, or raspiness. These
occur at an early stage in the development of the cancer.
Persistent hoarseness or
the voice for longer than two to four weeks in a smoker should prompt
evaluation by an otolaryngologist to determine if there is cancer of
(voice box). Different treatment options for this cancer of
voice box include surgery, radiation therapy, and/or chemotherapy. When
cord cancer is found early, typically only surgery or radiation therapy
required, and the cure rate is high (greater than 90 percent).
of the larynx (the voice box
including vocal chords
and epiglottis) is a rare disease and the incidence varies from country
country. Laryngeal cancer accounts for less than 1% of all cancers.
one hundred thousand new cases are reported worldwide each year, but
prognosis is usually good. This is because the larynx is sensitive even
small changes, so it is normally discovered early. The cause of this
not absolutely clear, although links with tobacco and alcohol have been
established. However, both nonsmokers and nondrinkers have also been
with this form of cancer, so there does not seem to be a definite
are treated by radiation- and chemo-therapies. If the tumor is too
large, it will probably have to be removed by surgery. This type of
surgery is referred to as a total laryngectomy and the patient is
referred to as a laryngectomee. The laryngectomee breathes through an
opening in the neck and has to rely on different devices for speech