Voice Disorders

West Shore ENT & Allergy

Otolaryngology & Allergy Specialists located in Norton Shores, Muskegon, Grand Haven, Fremont, & Ludington, MI

Loudly cheering for your team often causes a temporary voice disorder — hoarseness. But if you develop a voice problem lasting longer than two weeks, it’s a sign of vocal cord problems that should be looked at by the doctors at West Shore ENT & Allergy. To get expert voice care, call one of the offices in Norton Shores, Grand Haven, Fremont, Ludington, and Muskegon, Michigan, or schedule an appointment online today.

Voice Disorders Q & A

What is a voice disorder?

A voice disorder refers to changes in the quality of your voice. These changes, called hoarseness, can make your voice sound breathy, strained, and/or raspy. In some cases, the volume or pitch of your voice can change.

Voice disorders result from a problem with your vocal cords. These two folds of tissue are in your voice box (larynx), where they open when you breathe, then come together when you speak or sing. 

As air flows through the vocal cords, the tissues vibrate to produce sound. Changes in your vocal cords affect the quality, volume, and pitch of your voice.

What conditions cause voice disorders?

Allergies, thyroid disease, and neurological diseases like Parkinson’s can lead to chronic hoarseness. However, the most common causes of voice disorders include:

Acute laryngitis

Laryngitis occurs when your vocal cords are inflamed and swollen, often due to an upper respiratory tract infection or voice strain.

Voice misuse

Your vocal cords are strained when you speak too much, too loudly, or with a pitch that’s abnormally high or low.

Benign vocal cord lesions

Vocal cord polyps or cysts often show up in professional singers and public speakers, but they also develop from voice misuse.

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)

As acid comes up from your stomach and into your esophagus, it can irritate your vocal cords and cause hoarseness.

Vocal hemorrhage

A sudden loss of your voice after yelling or other strenuous vocal use is the sign of a vocal cord hemorrhage. This condition, which occurs when one of the blood vessels on the surface of the vocal cords ruptures, is an emergency requiring immediate care from the team at West Shore ENT & Allergy.

How is a voice disorder treated?

Many of our patients aren’t sure when they should seek the help of an ENT specialist for a voice disorder. You should see your doctor at West Shore ENT & Allergy when you have:

  • Hoarseness lasting two weeks or longer
  • Severe voice changes
  • Hoarseness without a cold
  • Pain when swallowing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Coughing up blood
  • Lump in your neck

In some cases, hoarseness is treated by resting your voice or learning how to modify the way you speak. If a vocal cord polyp is found, your doctor at West Shore ENT & Allergy will often recommend removing it.

If you have questions about a change in your voice, call West Shore ENT & Allergy or schedule an appointment online today.