What are Voice Disorders?
There are many disorders that affect the voice, causing symptoms such as hoarseness, pain, and swelling. There are many such conditions, including:
- Acute laryngitis: the most common cause of sudden hoarseness or voice loss, usually caused by a viral infection.
- Chronic laryngitis: ongoing laryngitis symptoms, for which a specific cause, such as acid reflux disease, yeast infection, or exposure to smoke, needs to be identified.
- Laryngopharyngeal reflux disease: reflux of stomach acid into the throat, which can cause hoarseness, swallowing problems, and the sensation of a lump in the throat.
- Benign vocal cord lesions: noncancerous growths such as polyps or cysts on the vocal chords, usually caused by misuse or overuse of the voice.
Vocal cord hemorrhage: an emergency condition that results from blood vessels on the vocal cords’ surface bursting and filling surrounding soft tissues with blood.
- Vocal cord paralysis and paresis: a neurological condition that causes paralysis or weakness of one or both vocal cords, along with hoarseness.
- Laryngeal cancer: a form of cancer affecting your vocal cords, that’s highly curable with early detection.
How are Voice Disorders Diagnosed?
If you experience voice-related symptoms, a diagnosis will likely start with a head, neck, and laryngeal exam. Dr. Hennessee reviews your medical history and symptoms and may order specialized tests to rule out or confirm various conditions.
How is Laryngitis Treated?
Acute laryngitis generally improves on its own within a week or so, without any medical treatment. Chronic laryngitis treatments aim to address the underlying cause. Antibiotics typically don’t help at all, because the infection is caused by a virus. In some cases, corticosteroids are used to reduce inflammation.
What Can I Do At Home?
In addition to any needed medical care, a variety of self-care steps can minimize throat pain and inflammation affecting the vocal chords. These include:
- Avoid whispering, which puts more strain on your voice than regular talking
- Moisten your throat with lozenges
- Gargle salt water
- Use a humidifier or steam to moisten the air you breathe
- Rest your voice
- Stay well-hydrated