Is It Time to See a Voice Disorder Specialist?


Your voice is the sound air makes when you force it out of your lungs and over your vocal cords. Besides allowing you to communicate with other people, your voice can be a source of livelihood. Have you been experiencing voice problems? Dr. Matthew Shawl in New York is dedicated to helping you beat the symptoms and make the most of your voice.

Common Voice Disorders

Your voice has many qualities, including volume, pitch, and tone. Typically, you have a voice disorder if one or several of these qualities are not normal, which you can identify when you speak or sing. A voice disorder is usually the result of an abnormality in the vibration of your vocal cords. The following are some of the most common voice issues you might develop:

  •   Vocal Cord Paralysis

Vocal cord paralysis, which can be total or partial, occurs when your vocal cord nerves are damaged by a viral infection, stroke, cancer, or traumatic injury. When paralysis affects both of your vocal cords in a closed position, your breathing might be noisy or labored. Paralysis in an open position can result in a weak, breathy voice. 

  •   Laryngitis

Laryngitis refers to the swelling of the vocal cords, making your voice hoarse or preventing you from producing sound entirely. The condition can be acute or chronic. The former is often caused by a viral infection of the upper respiratory tract and may last a few weeks. Chronic laryngitis, on the other hand, can persist for a long time and cause further complications such as a chronic cough.

  •   Spasmodic Dysphonia

Spasmodic Dysphonia is a problem of the nerves that causes spasms in the vocal cords. It can make your voice sound quivery, tight, hoarse, or jerky or prevent you from making any sound entirely. Depending on the symptoms, Spasmodic Dysphonia treatment may include botulinum toxin injections and speech therapy. 

Signs You Should Seek Help

As already mentioned, you will know you have a voice problem from how you breathe and how you sound when you speak. You should consider seeing a voice issue specialist if you experience the following symptoms:

  • Persistent rough, harsh, or hoarse voice
  • Quivering sound when you speak
  • Change in pitch to too high or too low.
  • Tension or pain in your throat when you speak.
  • Pain or tenderness when you touch the outside of your throat
  • Lump in your throat when you swallow

Voice Disorder Treatment

Voice disorder treatment will usually depend on the underlying cause and the nature and severity of the symptoms. If your voice problems result from acid reflux or allergies and are relatively minor, your doctor might prescribe medication and recommend some lifestyle changes. Common lifestyle changes used to fix voice issues include:

  • Using exercise to relax your vocal cords and the surrounding muscles
  • Adopting a less acidic diet
  • Resting your voice regularly.
  • Hydration
  • Warming up your vocal cords before periods of extensive use

If your voice disorder is severe, such as vocal cord paralysis, you might require voice therapy to improve your breathing and strengthen your vocal cords. Your doctor could also prescribe steroids in extreme conditions.

Bottom Line

If you are a singer, teacher, actor, comedian, or someone who uses their voice to work, your voice is more than a speaking tool. It is your source of livelihood, which is why you should never let voice problems stand in your way. Contact Dr. Shawl’s New York City Office today to schedule an appointment.


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