Nearly a third of American adults will have a voice disorder at some point prior to turning age 65. After age 65, voice problems become even more common due to age-related changes in and around the vocal cords. 

Voice disorders are pretty common, and you may not know that these issues are highly treatable. At Southern ENT Associates, our team specializes in diagnosing and treating voice disorders in patients of all ages. Here’s how we can help you.

How you speak

When you speak, air travels from your lungs past your larynx, or voice box, located below the very back of your throat. The larynx is composed of muscle, tough cartilage, and mucous membranes, all of which work together to produce sound and speech.

Your vocal cords are two fibrous, flexible bands of tough muscle tissue located at the very top of your trachea (windpipe). As air passes through the voice box, these bands vibrate, creating sound. When the bands are tight and vibrate quickly, the sounds are high; relaxed bands create lower tones.

These bands also help close off your trachea when you swallow, preventing food and liquid from entering your lungs. If the vocal cords or any part of your voice box is damaged or inflamed, you can develop a voice disorder.

Common voice problems

There are lots of different types of voice disorders, but in general, they include any issue that causes a change in the pitch, loudness, or quality of your voice, as well as problems that require you to put in more effort to make your voice heard or understood.

Some of the most common voice disorders include:

  • Laryngitis (inflammation of the larynx or voice box)
  • Voice disorders related to muscle tension
  • Neurological voice problems
  • Vocal cord paralysis
  • Hoarseness
  • Loss of loudness

There are lots of issues that increase your risk of developing a voice disorder, including:

  • Smoking
  • Allergies
  • Overuse or misuse of your voice
  • Polyps or nodules on your vocal cords
  • Cancerous lesions
  • Aging
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Stress
  • Thyroid problems
  • Lung or breathing problems

While some voice issues clear up over time (including those caused by allergies, for instance), even these seemingly benign problems can cause permanent damage if they happen over and over again without medical treatment.

Treating voice problems

Our team is skilled in identifying the causes of voice problems, tailoring every treatment plan to each patient’s unique medical needs, lifestyle, and risk factors. 

Depending on the cause of your voice problem, your treatment might include:

  • Voice training
  • Medication
  • Smoking cessation programs
  • Allergy treatments
  • Surgery to remove growths

Voice problems are your body’s way of telling you there’s something wrong with your larynx or with the way your larynx works. If you have a change in your voice, don’t ignore it. Early treatment is the key to restoring your voice and your quality of life.

With locations in Thibodaux, Houma, Raceland, Morgan City, New Iberia, and Youngsville, Louisiana, we make it easy to get prompt, professional care for voice problems. To learn what’s causing your voice disorder, call us today for an appointment.

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