Most people take their voice for granted, unless it becomes hoarse, tires easily, or
in some other way ceases to function as before. Usually such dysphonia is of short
duration but, in some cases, it may become chronic. If it lasts for more than two
weeks and is unrelated to an upper respiratory tract infection it is advisable to
visit a Laryngologist or throat specialist. The Laryngologist, using videostroboscopy, will
usually be able to diagnose the kind of voice disorder and to determine whether
any pathology is present, such as growths on the vocal folds. Growths include nodules,
granuloma, cysts, and polyps.
The first two tend to respond better to voice retraining than the latter two.
Nevertheless, Ruth has had success in reducing the size of these as well.
Treatment of dysphonia will vary, depending on the diagnosis. Some voice disorders tend
to be unresponsive to the kind of behavioral retraining inherent in voice rehabilitation,
while others are very responsive. In the latter case, much of the success will depend on
the motivation of the patient to alter his or her speech or singing habits. If pathology
is present whose cause lies in habitual vocal habits, there is no point in undergoing
surgery before first learning how to alter this behavior. Otherwise, the pathology will
most likely return.
Some useful terms:
An abnormal voice quality, such as hoarseness
The use of a camera - either by means of a rigid oral scope, or a flexible
nasal scope - to obtain video images of the the laryngeal structure and of the vocal folds
in motion. This is a simple, outpatient procedure, involving little or no discomfort, and far
superior to the traditional ENT exam using a mirror.
MTD (Muscle Tension Dysphonia)
Muscle tension either in the throat and neck area or involving the breathing mechanism
that prevents easy phonation. A significant portion of Ruth's voice rehabilitation practice
involves MTD, which generally responds well to behavioral retraining.
SD (Spasmodic Dysphonia)
A neurological voice disorder that involves involuntary "spasms" of the vocal cords causing
interruptions of speech and affecting the voice quality. There is a certain amount of controversy regarding the
treatment of SD.
The following links reflect a few of these viewpoints:
Other helpful links
Evaluating Hoarseness: www.aafp.org/afp/980600ap/rosen.html
Voice Disorders: www.voiceandswallowing.com/Voicedisorders_main.htm