Voice problems affect many individuals. Adult voice problems (dysphonia) can occur for a variety of reasons:
- Misuse of voice
- Stress – stressful lifestyles can lead to voice difficulties
- Injury or illness affecting any part of the vocal apparatus
- Disease and illness of the larynx and/or laryngectomy
Problems with voice can affect a person’s life in many ways including their career progression, relationships and confidence. Many things can be done with speech therapy and lifestyle changes that can have a positive impact on your voice.
How the voice works
Before we talk about what we can do to repair or facilitate voice, we need to look at how the voice works. Described simply, the voice is powered by air from the lungs, the air passes through the larynx which contains the vocal folds (often called the vocal chords). The vocal folds are 2 folds of muscle that meet together many times per second (approximately 125 per second for men and 210 times for woman) when we want to produce voice. As the vocal folds meet together sound is created, which is your voice. This sound resonates in the pharynx (the back of your throat), oral and nasal cavities, and is then shaped into words by your tongue, lips, facial muscles. The pitch of sound is altered by changing the length and tension of the vocal folds. Some sounds don’t require voice, and we call these voiceless sounds (”s” and “f” for instance). When we make voiceless sounds our vocal folds come are apart (abduct), and when we make voiced sounds (”a”, “m” for instance) our vocal folds come together (adduct). For a more detailed description of how the voice works, see our fact-sheet in the Downloads Section.
If you have concerns about your voice, visit a qualified speech therapist /pathologist for assessment and speech therapy. Click here to find out about Therapy and Treatment for voice problems and to see how what simple strategies you can introduce to help heal your voice.
For more information about communication difficulties, and ideas and strategies to help communication, see our Resources, or for specific fact-sheets with helpful hints about Adult Speech Difficulties go to the Downloads section.
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