As defined by ASHA a voice disorder is characterized by the abnormal production and/or absences of vocal quality, pitch, loudness, resonance, and/or duration, which is inappropriate for an individual’s age and/or sex. Everyone experiences complications with their voice. It could be from singing your lungs out at a concert to exposure to irritants such as ammonia. There are four types of voice disorders:
Vocal Cord Nodules and Polyps:
Vocal cord nodules are benign (noncancerous) growths on both vocal cords that are caused by vocal abuse. Over time, repeated abuse of the vocal cords results in soft, swollen spots on each vocal cord. These spots develop into harder, callous-like growths called nodules. The nodules will become larger and stiffer the longer the vocal abuse continues.
Polyps can take a number of forms. They are sometimes caused by vocal abuse. Polyps appear on either one or both of the vocal cords. They appear as a swelling or bump (like a nodule), a stalk-like growth, or a blister-like lesion. Most polyps are larger than nodules and may be called by other names, such as polypoid degeneration or Reinke’s edema. The best way to think about the difference between nodules and polyps is to think of a nodule as a callous and a polyp as a blister.
Vocal Cord Paralysis:
Everyone has two vocal cords in his or her larynx (voicebox). The vocal cords vibrate during speech to produce voice. If one or both vocal cords are unable to move then the person will experience voice problems and possibly breathing and swallowing problems. This is vocal cord paralysis.
There are different types of vocal cord paralysis. Bilateral vocal cord paralysis involves both vocal cords becoming stuck halfway between open and closed (the paramedian position) and not moving either way. This condition often requires a tracheotomy (an opening made in the neck to provide an airway) to protect the airway when the person eats.
Unilateral vocal cord paralysis is when only one side is paralyzed in the paramedian position or has a very limited movement. It is more common than bilateral involvement. The paralyzed vocal cord does not move to vibrate with the other cord but vibrates abnormally or does not vibrate at all. The individual will run out of air easily. They will be unable to speak clearly or loudly.
Paradoxical Vocal Fold Movement:
Paradoxical vocal fold movement (PVFM) is a voice disorder. The vocal folds (cords) behave in a normal fashion almost all of the time, but, when an episode occurs, the vocal cords close when they should open, such as when breathing.
and Spasmodic Dysphonia:
Spasmodic dysphonia is a chronic (long-term) voice disorder. With spasmodic dysphonia, movement of the vocal cords is forced and strained resulting in a jerky, quivery, hoarse, tight, or groaning voice. Vocal interruptions or spasms, periods of no sound (aphonia), and periods when there is near normal voice occur.
All of this and much more is found on the ASHA website. If you think you or your child has a voice disorder or are looking for treatment, contact Christine Wilson today!