When to seek help for voice problems

December 01, 2012

The act of speaking involves a complex chain of events. It begins when air from the lungs travels through the trachea into the larynx (voice box). Here, it passes across two fibrous bands within the larynx called the vocal cords. The action of the passing air makes the vocal cords vibrate, producing sound, which is shaped into speech by the mouth, tongue and lips.

Although it’s easy to take this process for granted, once something happens to change this dynamic, the result can be life-altering in many cases. People with voice disorders may find it difficult to communicate with others in person or on the phone, having a major impact on their personal and professional relationships.

When should you seek help for a voice problem? Generally, symptoms that may indicate a voice disorder include:

  • A hoarse, rough, or gravelly voice
  • A voice that sounds weak or tired after talking or singing
  • Hoarseness that continues for more than two weeks
  • Neck or throat discomfort after exerting your voice
  • Words that sound strangulated
  • A burning or stinging feeling in your throat
  • Throat spasms
  • Frequent throat clearing
  • The feeling that you have a lump in your throat
  • Trouble swallowing, including coughing and choking

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