How Does Your Voice Work?
As you exhale, the air from your lungs passes through your vocal folds and out your nose and mouth. Normally, the vocal folds open and close, creating sound as air passes through and causes them to vibrate. If they become inflamed or irritated, the sound they create is distorted. This results in voice problems.
Common Causes of Voice Problems
Have you ever screamed so loudly at an event that the next day your voice was horse? That is called vocal strain and is just one of the many causes of a voice problem. Additional causes include:
- Viral or bacterial infection
- Prolonged exposure to an irritant
- Growths on the vocal folds
Less common causes of a voice problem include vocal cord bowing, cancer or vocal cord paralysis.
Voice Problem Symptoms
The most common symptoms of a voice disorder are hoarseness, a weak voice, a sore throat and a dry cough. Trouble swallowing, coughing or frequently clearing your voice can also be signs of a problem. If these symptoms last longer than two weeks you should consult with a doctor.
How is a Voice Problem Diagnosed?
In order to diagnose a voice problem, your doctor will review your medical history and complete a physical exam. Oftentimes, your Houston doctor will need to get a better look at your larynx; if so, a laryngoscopy will be performed.
There are two ways to perform a laryngoscopy. One involves a light and a series of mirrors positioned to allow your Houston doctor to see down your throat. The second type is the preferred method and involves inserting an endoscope through your nose or mouth. The endoscope is a thin flexible tube with a light and a camera on the end. Either of these versions will enable your doctor to take a closer look and watch how your vocal cords react when you speak.
Many of these voice problems will get better on their own by simply resting your voice and drinking plenty of liquids. If your vocal cords are inflamed, corticosteroids or antibiotics may be ordered.
To learn more about voice problems, contact your Houston doctor today.