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Each year, approximately one in 13 adults in the US will experience a voice problem.
World Voice Day is observed globally on April 16th and serves as an opportunity to celebrate the human voice and raise awareness of issues that can affect the health of one’s voice.
As humans, we rely heavily upon our voices. From ordering our favorite coffee to participating in conference calls at work or having conversations at the dinner table - we are constantly using our voices and they are essential for communication.
Unfortunately, with all the demands that are placed on our voice, it is not uncommon to experience dysphonia. Dysphonia is a common disorder where patients have difficulty speaking. Specifically, it is an impairment of the vocal mechanism, or the muscles within your throat that help you speak. Per the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, "Approximately one out of 13 adults in the United States will experience a voice problem annually.” There are many factors that can contribute to dysphonia. To name a few, age, overuse of the voice (commonly seen with teachers or those with high demands on their voices), certain neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, viruses (such as Covid), head/neck cancers, surgeries that involve the neck region and reflux can all have a negative effect on the voice.
Not only can these cause changes to how your voice sounds, but they can also result in throat pain, the need for increased effort to speak, or fatigue after speaking.
At AdventHealth Tampa’s Voice & Swallowing Center, we have a multidisciplinary team, including Ear Nose and Throat doctors as well as a speech pathologist, to care for those having trouble with their voice. Our evaluation process includes visualizing the vocal folds via state-of-the-art technology called Videostroboscopy. This imaging procedure allows us to determine the cause behind voice changes so that an individualized treatment plan can be established. Our Board-certified Speech Language Pathologist carries out the treatment plan with the goal of rehabilitating your voice to its highest potential.
Treatment options range from those that modify the vocal mechanism and those that focus on the symptoms of the voice disorder. For example, the treatment for someone who has a weak voice due to aging would be very different than compared to a teacher who has a strained voice from overusing her mechanism. In short, there are various options for treating the voice, however studies show that only a minority of patients who could benefit from therapy seek care.
“A good rule of thumb is to seek professional care if the dysphonia lasts more than two to three weeks.”, says Cory O’Brien, Board-certified Speech Language Pathologist.
Learn more about the treatment options available for dysphonia: Medical Minute: Dysphonia Treatments - YouTube
If you or someone you know is experiencing changes in the ability to voice and are interested in scheduling an appointment with our Board-certified Speech Language Pathologist, please call our Voice and Swallowing Center to make an appointment at Call813-467-4262 or visit TampaENTexperts.com for more information.