Voice Disorders

Also known as: hoarseness, laryngitis.

What are voice disorders?

Voice is the sound produced by the thin membranes in the voice box (larynx) vibrating as air passes over them during breathing; modified by movement of the lips, tongue, jaw and palate to produce speech. Voice disorders are a broad category of medical conditions (congenital and acquired; acute or chronic) that affect the loudness, pitch, quality or resonance of the voice.

Voice disorders are quite common and can occur for a number of reasons and range in severity.

What causes voice disorders in children?

  • In the newborn baby, hoarseness may be due to congenital (present at birth) or neurological (brain) abnormalities.
  • In older children, acute voice changes can result from talking or shouting loudly, yelling and/or for too long, from common viral childhood infections (laryngitis), or depending on how the child feels emotionally.
  • Chronic voice disorders may be due to damage, injury or nodules on the vocal cords, structural problems related to the mouth or throat, underlying medical neurological /muscle abnormalities or other causes.  

What are the symptoms of voice disorders?

Common symptoms of voice disorders vary widely in nature and severity. They include:

  • an abnormal or high pitch
  • loudness or very quiet voice
  • slightly gravelly voice
  • a gurgling voice
  • a voice that is gone altogether
These are just a few of many manifestations of voice disorders.

What are voice disorders care options?

Treatments depend on the age, severity and cause and can vary widely. They might include resting the voice, medication, surgery and/or therapy with a speech-language pathologist among other medical professionals.

Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: December 04, 2019 02:06 PM

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