Voice disorders

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Definition

The most common symptom of all voice disorders is hoarseness. Hoarseness results when the vocal folds do not vibrate smoothly and/or do not close completely during vibration. Other common voice disorder symptoms include inability to speak loudly, monotone quality, strained-strangled quality, lowered pitch, an inappropriately high pitch, an inability to hit high notes, constant breathiness, pain in the throat, and tremor (a shaky voice).

The most common cause of voice disorders is vocal abuse and misuse resulting from chronic behaviours like smoking, drinking, shouting, throat clearing, and coughing, or using poor vocal technique or inappropriate pitch. These behaviours can inflame and injure the surface of the vocal folds, leading to changes in vibration, damage to tissue, and eventually to non-cancerous lesions (e.g. vocal nodules). Cancer, malformation of structures in the mouth, throat, or nose, infections, asthma are examples of disease and trauma which may affect the vocal structures.

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