Common Voice Disorders

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Have you ever wondered if something is wrong with your voice? Or maybe you know something is wrong, or a doctor has told you something is wrong and you’re not sure where to turn? Vocal health is a hot topic, and when we aren’t vocally healthy, the shame starts to boil, which makes the singing worse, because…who can sing while crying???

The team at M.E.T. Studio of Voice is trained and committed to working with voice users who have experienced vocal health issues. You are NOT alone and you can overcome this. Below is a list of vocal disorders, maybe one of these resonates or perhaps your voice has been through another kind of health issue. 

Muscle Tension Dysphonia (MTD) is a condition that causes laryngeal muscles to function inappropriately to create sound to overcome hypofunction. MTD often leads to other vocal disorders. Singers with MTD often have breathy, inconsistent, or crackly voices in singing AND speaking. Oftentimes, the extrinsic laryngeal muscles will be obviously active in any vocal production. In the worst cases of MTD I’ve seen, the laryngeal muscles will randomly tense up and cause quite a bit of discomfort to the singer. Treatment for MTD is voice therapy!

Polyps are specific, demarcated masses (lumps don’t automatically mean cancer!) usually occurring midpoint along the vocal folds. Polyps typically occur in males, although not always. A polyp can be challenging to detect, because as it wiggles around on the vocal fold, it doesn’t always disrupt the sound. Treatment for polyps can include voice rest, voice therapy, and/or surgery.

A cyst is a mass of a collection of material (usually mucus) that is surrounded by membrane. Cysts occur within the lamina propria (a thin layer of connective tissue on the top of the vocal folds) and when the vocal folds are irritated. Treatment for cysts include vocal rest and surgery.

Nodules are like calluses and bilateral, meaning they occur on both vocal folds. Nodules are usually caused by hyperfunction, and typically occur in females. Treatment for nodules is voice therapy, NOT surgery, for a minimum of 6-8 weeks, along with amazing vocal hygiene. 

Notice with all disorders listed above, voice therapy is part of treatment. A lot of muscle groups – and I do mean many, many – are involved in vocal production. If these muscle groups are conditioned to work in such a way that got your voice into a mess, these same muscle groups need to be taught something new. That is the work of voice therapy. It’s necessary and really good for your voice.

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