Laryngeal Voice Disorders
People of any age can develop laryngeal voice disorders, and for a variety of reasons. Voice disorders affect your ability to speak, and can occur for many reasons, including both psychological and physical. Access to advanced diagnostic tools is key in determining the underlying cause or causes of your loss of speech.
The team of voice and swallowing disorders specialists at The University of Kansas Health System treats a wide range of conditions that affect the voice, and have helped hundreds of adults and children improve their quality of life.
What are laryngeal voice disorders?
The vocal cords, 2 bands of flexible muscle tissue, sit at the entrance of the windpipe (trachea) within the larynx (voice box). We create sound through the vibration of our vocal cords as air passes through them. Laryngeal voice disorders are conditions that affect the ability of the larynx to work properly, causing problems with speech and creating other sounds. There are many different types of disorders that can affect the vocal cords and voice box. Because the larynx also controls swallowing, swallowing disorders may also be present.
Types of laryngeal voice disorders
Nodules, polyps, Reinke's edema, cysts, granuloma, papilloma, keratosis, sulcus vocalis, laryngoceles, vocal fold scarring, presbylaryngis
Stenosis, webs, laryngeal clefts and laryngomalacia
Abuse and misuse of the voice
Early detection, preoperative counseling and post-laryngectomy voice acquisition
Fractures, scarring, post-intubation arytenoid dislocation
Conversion dysphonia, puberphonia, stuttering (vocal onset type)
Diagnosis, medical and dietary treatment
Laryngeal voice disorders symptoms and risks
Symptoms that could indicate the presence of a voice disorder include:
- A sensation that something’s caught in your throat
- Chronic sore throat or cough
- Physical discomfort when speaking
- Vocal irregularities, such as hoarseness, weakness or pitch breaks
The risk of developing a voice disorder increases with age. Other risk factors include smoking, alcohol use and having an underlying health condition like allergies, GERD or upper respiratory illness. Injury or trauma to the front of the neck, including a previous surgery, can also contribute to laryngeal voice disorders.
Laryngeal voice disorders diagnosis and screening
The special assessment procedures we may use as part of your diagnosis include:
- Computerized acoustic analysis
- Esophageal and pharyngeal pH and manometry study
- Esophageal insufflation to evaluate for tracheoesophageal puncture (TEP)
- Laryngeal EMG
- Neurosensory pharyngeal swallowing testing
- Oral-pharyngeal swallowing study
- Perceptual voice analysis by trained speech pathologist
Laryngeal voice disorders treatments
Determining the best treatment for your particular laryngeal voice disorder will depend on the precise nature of your condition. We would take a different approach toward the diagnosis and management of special vocal problems experienced by the professional voice user, for example.
Typically, multidisciplinary treatment for voice disorders offers the most effective outcomes. The 2 main treatments for laryngeal voice disorders are injections or surgery.
In addition to injections and/or surgery, you may also need to attend voice therapy. We offer pre- and post-laryngectomy counseling, post-laryngectomy speech training (TEP usage and esophageal speech) and therapy for velopharyngeal incompetence. Psychological stress is also often a primary factor in voice disorders.
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