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If you have a vocal problem, you might experience symptoms such as:
People who use their voices a lot or those who work in noisy environments are at a greater risk for developing vocal problems.
Professions at higher risk for getting voice disorders include:
If you experience hoarseness or a voice change that persists more than one week without improvement — or lasts more than two weeks — you should see your doctor.
If you experience difficulty swallowing or breathing, see your doctor immediately.
A number of items can cause problems in the larynx (voice box), including:
Smoking and exposure to cigarette smoke irritates and dries the lining of the voice box, thereby:
Smoking also destroys lung function. Without good lung function, singing is impossible and speaking can be difficult.
Yes. Stomach acid can pass up to the throat and irritate the larynx (voice box), negatively affecting voice quality. This condition is called laryngopharyngeal reflux disease (LPRD).
You can help prevent LPRD by changing the time, type, and amount of food you eat, and by avoiding:
Yes, drinking water is good for your voice. The vocal cords (also called folds) vibrate against each other 100 to 400 times per second and require constant lubrication.
At the UPMC Voice Center, we recommend drinking six to eight glasses of water per day — and avoiding caffeinated drinks such as cola, tea, and coffee — for sufficient vocal lubrication. If you do drink caffeine, you need to drink additional glasses of water.
Singer's nodes, or vocal nodules, are small calluses on the vocal cords. They occur in both boys and girls, but predominately in women.
Nodules come from abuse to the vocal cords associated with:
Experts at UPMC's Voice Center can treat vocal nodules quite easily and successfully with voice therapy. Nodules rarely require surgery.
Although smoking is identified as a cause of cancer of the larynx (voice box), misuse of the voice is more likely to cause voice conditions such as:
Voice therapy involves a patient-centered treatment method to modify behaviors that contribute to voice disorders or in some other way limit normal voice use.
The two major ways to change vocal behaviors are:
Voice therapy exercises include:
To establish the necessary behavioral changes for correcting your voice disorder, you will need to attend voice therapy sessions once a week for the first few weeks of treatment.
At the UPMC Voice Center, we can often treat common voice disorders — such as vocal nodules or muscle tension dysphonia — in just four to eight sessions.
Yes. At the UPMC Voice Center, we offer several treatments for vocal cord paralysis that often result in restoring near-normal speaking voice quality.
The most common treatment for a paralyzed vocal cord is voice therapy. Voice therapy helps maximize the voice and compensate for the immobile vocal cord.
Experts at UPMC's Voice Center may also recommend surgery, along with voice therapy, to treat paralyzed vocal cords. We can perform certain surgeries without putting you to sleep, allowing you to go home the same day.
Yes. Many things can cause a weak voice or vocal fatigue (a voice that tires easily).
Depending on the cause, voice therapy often helps strengthen a weak or tired voice.
Surgery on the vocal cords is another treatment option for correcting a weak voice or vocal fatigue. Experts at UPMC's Voice Center can perform vocal fold augmentation surgery to make the vocal cords bigger.