Home Health Voice Disorders: Should I Consult An ENT Doctor?

Voice Disorders: Should I Consult An ENT Doctor?

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Your voice is one of the crucial factors to pay attention to in your body. Losing your voice due to flu or cold is not one of the best experiences. However, in some situations, it may turn out to be more severe than flu. The problem might be your larynx which affects your voice box. If you find yourself clearing your throat often, your voice sounding hoarse or raspy, and experiencing pain in your throat, ear, or jaw, those are common signs of Voice Disorders. Some of these disorders can be cleared through behavioral intervention and medications, as most patients with the symptoms are nonsurgical. Many hospitals employ qualified voice experts to care for your needs. It means you will visit several voice experts like a speech pathologist who specializes in swallowing and voice problems and a voice specialist or Laryngologist.

Voice Disorders: Should I Consult An ENT Doctor?

Voice Disorders

The specialist will examine the whole person to determine the cause of the problem from other issues like a diet. You will also get a diagnosis to help you in your recovery journey.

What Causes Voice Hoarseness?

The leading cause of hoarseness is the vocal cords function problem. When the vocal cords are infected or have muscular problems, they swell, leading to hoarseness. Dysphonia is a similar concept and refers to sounds production, but doctors use it at times to refer to hoarseness. Voice fatigue can also lead to vocal hoarseness and discomfort as voice tires easily.

Factors that Lead to Voice Problems

  • Excessive consumption of alcohol
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Excessive smoking
  • Professional voice use
  • Environment: low humidity, atmospheric nuisances, and noise pollution

Signs and Symptoms of Voice Condition

A person experiencing a voice problem may have the following voice quality:

  • Choppy or strained
  • Too low or too high
  • Significant pitch change
  • Breathy or whispery
  • Quivering
  • Husky, harsh or rough

Other signs include:

  • Voicebox feeling tired
  • Pain when you touch your throat from outside
  • Pain and tension in your throat when you talk
  • You are feeling a lump in your throat when you are swallowing.

The symptoms can range from mild to severe. If you experience the above symptoms for more than two weeks, you should seek medical advice from an ENT doctor.

What to Expect During Your Visit an ENT Doctor?

During your initial consultations, the doctor will ask questions about your breathing concerns, how you use your voice and if you find any difficulty while swallowing. The doctor will perform a complete ear, nose, and throat exam with other necessary tests to assess other possible symptoms. The tests may include:

Electromyography

It is a medical test to measure the muscle’s electrical activity while engaging in different vocal tasks.

Videostroboscopy

A test is done by passing a small telescope through the nose or mouth for the doctor to see your vocal cords and voice box. The doctor uses a strobe light to light up the vocal cords when they slowly vibrate.

Reflux Test

Prolonged monitoring analysis of double-probe PH helps determine what causes stomach fluid backflow to the throat, esophagus, and voice box, leading to voice problems.

Voice Functional Testing

It involves analyzing voice in sound parameters. A professional speech pathologist evaluates different speech and voices with acoustic analysis. Acoustic analysis is a complex computer-based technique used for voice recording, and then a computer analyses it to acquire voice abnormalities from its quantitative measurements. The test is essential for finding trivial voice irregularities.

Modified Barium Swallow

it is a test used for complex issues. The doctor gives you a chalky barium mixture to drink to coat inside the pharynx and esophagus walls. The process lets the upper gastrointestinal tract appear on an X-ray film.

Flexible Endoscopic Evaluation of Swallowing

During this test, the doctor will observe your real-time swallowing functionality. In this case, the doctor wants to identify the causes of swallowing difficulty. After going through the required tests, the doctor will explain their findings; offer a diagnosis and a treatment plan.

What Happens in A Voice Therapy?

It is a program designed to reduce vocal hoarseness through lifestyle change and vocal behaviors. The therapy consists of different tasks to eradicate destructive voice behavior, heal vocal fold wounds after an injury or surgery, and influence healthy vocal behavior. Voice therapy consists of two to four therapy sessions after every four to eight weeks. Its duration is determined by different factors like severity of the condition, origin of the voice problem, patient commitments, and responsiveness of the new vocal behaviors outside the session.

How is Voice Condition Treated?

The treatment varies according to its severity and what caused it. It may include:

1. Injections

Throat muscle injuries are treatable with botulinum toxin injection. Fat and other fillers can be injected into the vocal cords to help them close and heal better.

2. Medication

Some vocal problems are treatable with antacid medications, which may be useful for gastric reflux, nasal sprays to treat allergies affecting your verbal, and hormone therapy for people with thyroid problems.

3. Surgery

It is the last treatment option for restoring laryngeal function in case of vocal fold scar or vocal fold paralysis. In this case, the surgeon can remove vocal fold lesions.

How to Avoid Voice Issues

Voice problems, especially for a professional vocalist, can be alleviated by medical treatments and regular maintenance. For minor conditions, the tip below will help you regain your voice and keeping it healthy:

  • Use amplification when addressing the public.
  • Avoid talking in rowdy places like restaurants and parties.
  • Avoid whispering as loud whispers lead to voice strain.
  • If your voice is for professional purposes, emphasize cool down and warm-up exercises.
  • Stay away from acidic and spicy food; instead, opt for food rich in high water content like grapes and watermelon.
  • Ensure you consume enough water to keep your vocal cord lubricated
  • Eliminate caffeine and alcohol from your diet as they dehydrate the body
  • Maintain your body weight. healthy body posture and vocal muscles help in your vocal activities
  • Avoid smoking