Voice is produced when air from the lungs is transformed into a tone by the vibrating vocal folds, or vocal cords, in the voice box, or larynx.
‘Voice’ has a number of characteristics – pitch, volume, quality and resonance.
Changes to the sound of the voice often come about as the direct result of physical changes in the larynx. These changes may arise due to:
• Vocal abuse – this is the most common cause of voice disorders. Frequently straining the voice or straining for prolonged periods of time may damage the delicate structures involved in producing a clear voice. This damage may be temporary or longer term. A husky voice in a child is often related to excessive shouting, or straining when making funny sounds and fake voices during playtime; it can be particularly related to prolonged use of angry or stressed voice in play.
• Infection or inflammation due to illness.
• Traumatic injuries to the neck area and vocal tract.
• Neurological conditions causing weakness or palsy.
• Tumours and other benign growths, and their subsequent treatment.
• Irritation caused by gastric reflux.
These may include:
• Change of voice quality – what was once a clear voice, may now sound husky and hoarse;
• A breathy voice and a feeling of running out of air when speaking;
• Ongoing problems with losing the voice.
Some children may require surgical intervention for their voice problems, but many voice disorders in children can be treated in speech therapy sessions with a focus on developing an understanding of how to protect the voice as well as the practice of speaking techniques which encourage good voice habits.
It is our preferred practice at Speech Pathology Tasmania, for our voice clients to seek an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) Specialist appointment before embarking on a course of voice therapy. Review by an ENT will involve directly observing the larynx and vocal folds. This enables diagnosis of physical factors which may be present and allows for an appropriate method of treatment to be selected.