Our voice is produced by the vibration of the vocal cords caused by air passing out through the voice box [larynx] bringing the cords closer together. Proper care and use of your voice improves the likelihood of having a healthy voice for your entire lifetime.
How Do I Know If I Have A Voice Problem?
• Change in quality of voice- voice sounds harsh or rough
• Pain on speaking- a sharp or dull pain may occur on speaking for long
• Voice breaks on singing or speaking
• Loss of pitch
• Loss of voice range
If your voice difficulty or voice change lasts more than a week’s time it is prudent to meet an ENT Specialist
Tips To Identify Voice Problems
Sometimes it is hard to notice a change in your own voice unless you are professionally trained to do so.Often friends and relatives point out that the voice sounds different.
Ask yourself the following questions to determine if you have an unhealthy voice:
• Has your voice become hoarse or raspy?
• Does your throat often feel raw, achy, or strained?
• Does talking require more effort?
• Do you find yourself repeatedly clearing your throat?
• Do you feel a lump sensation in your throat?
• Do people regularly ask you if you have a cold when in fact you do not?
• Have you lost your ability to hit some high notes when singing?
If you have identified a voice problem you may want to know the reason.There are several reasons for a voice cahnge and your ENT doctor can help you identify if the reason is a laryngitis or something more sinister.
What is the cause for the change in my voice?
It may be broadly divided into:
• Vocal cord inflammation- such as in acute laryngitis
• Vocal cord lesions -vocal polyps,vocal nodules,cysts vocal cord
• Vocal cord paralysis
• Laryngopharyngeal reflux [acid reflux]
• Vocal cord cancer- a change in the voice is often the first symptom of cancer larynx[ voice box] and prompt detection and treatment has excellent cure rate
An ENT Specialist can pinpoint the diagnosis by a detailed examination including an indirect laryngoscopy with mirrors or a 90 degree telescope.Sometimes a direct laryngoscopy is advised to enable direct visualisation of the vocal cords and larynx[voice box]
Why do voice problems occur?
Voice problems can occur due to a variety of reasons.Your ENT Surgeon will take a detailed history to find out contributing or precipitating causes.
Conditions affecting the vocal cords producing a change in the voice may develop due to:-
• Excess voice use Voice abuse as in screaming or shouting
• Acid reflux[Laryngopharyngeal reflux]
• Injury as in an accident or following intubation [ for a surgery or for ventilation support]
• Hormonal imbalance- thyroid problems[hypothyroidism]
• Drugs :- many drugs can have an injurious effect on the voice- inform your ENT specialist if you are taking any regular medicines
• Neurological conditions
What should I do if I have a problem with my voice?
• Take care of your voice-Do not strain it further by shouting, singing ,whispering or talking more than is necessary
• Drink adequate fluids
• Keep your acidity under control
• Visit an ENT specialist in your locality
Voice care-How to Keep Your Voice Healthy
- Drink enough water. Moisture is essential to keep your vocal cords well lubricated.
- Do not shout or scream-These are vocal abusive practices which put a lot of strain on the lining of your vocal cords.
- Warm up your voice before heavy use such as in singing, teaching a class, preaching, or giving a speech. Warm-ups can be simple, such as gently gliding from low to high tones on different vowel sounds, doing lip trills (like the motorboat sound that kids make), or tongue trills.
- Do not smoke- not only does it increase the risk of it is injurious to the vocal cords.
- Use a mike/microphone-When giving a speech or presentation or singing considers using a mike to lessen the strain on your voice.
- Listen to your voice. When your voice is complaining to you, listen to it.
- Do not strain your voice further when it is already hoarse
- Avoid throat clearing frequently- if you are clearing your throat frequently there might be some underlying problem.
- Avoid straining the voice when you have a cold
- Be aware of the medications you use.Some medicines such as over the counter cold and cough medications can dry up secretions and affect your voice
Dr Sonia Suprabha Venugopal
Consultant ENT Surgeon,Head and Neck Specialist,Bangalore
For more infomation :http://drsoniasv.webs.com