World Voice Day is coming soon! Did you know that Speech-Language Pathologists work together with physicians to assess and treat voice disorders?
Do you have a voice disorder? You may if your voice is rough/hoarse/breathy some or all of the time. Have you lost the ability to project your voice? Does your voice tire by the end of your day or your work week? If you are a singer (amateur or professional), have you lost your full range?
The following are risk factors for voice problems:
• Excess alcohol consumption
• Gastro-oesophageal reflux
• Professional voice use – e.g. teachers, actors and singers
• Environment: poor acoustics, atmospheric irritants and low humidity
• Type 2 diabetes (neuropathy, poor glycaemic control).
What can you do for a voice disorder?
Voice symptoms due to a cold or flu may be evaluated by family physicians, pediatricians, and internists.
When symptoms lasts longer than two weeks or have no obvious cause, they should be evaluated by an otolaryngologist (ENT; ear, nose and throat doctor) and a speech-language pathologist.
The treatment of a voice disorder depends on the cause. The ENT may make some recommendations about voice use behavior, refer the patient to a speech-language pathologist, and in some instances recommend surgery if a lesion, such as a polyp, is identified.
Speech-language pathologists are trained to assess voice disorders and assist patients in behavior modification that help improve or eliminate voice disorders. The speech-language pathologist can teach patients to alter their method of speech production to improve the sound of the voice and to resolve the problems, such as vocal nodules. When a patient’s problem is specifically related to singing, their speech-language pathologist can work together with a singing teacher to help improve the patient’s singing techniques.
Suggestions for improved vocal hygiene for all voice users are as follows:
• Stay hydrated by drinking sufficient water.
• Avoid smoking (including second-hand smoke).
• Be aware that beverages containing alcohol and caffeine have a dehydrating effect and thus affect your vocal function.
If you have questions about your voice, please contact Beth Cranmer-Smith at our contacts listed above.