What is the Voice?
Your voice is a sound made by vibration of the vocal cords as air passing out through the larynx. We are aware of the importance of the voice in social interaction as well as for most people’s occupation. Proper care and use of your voice improves the likelihood of having a healthy voice for your entire lifetime.
Voice problems occur when vocal quality deteriorates, leading to hoarseness, roughness, or a raspy character. This may be masked by changes in pitch, complete loss of voice, loss of vocal strength, and sometimes pain or difficulty swallowing. Other symptoms that indicate a more serious problem may include spitting up of blood, or difficulty breathing. The most common acute change in voice cause is an upper respiratory infection causing swelling of the vocal cords.
A throat examination by an Otolaryngologist is performed typically with a nasolaryngoscopy (nasal scope that easily slips through the nose to the throat to evaluate the larynx, or voice box). Those with higher incidence of cancer, including smokers, are typically seen for surveillance of any cancer/disease of the larynx/throat.
Vocal Cord Paralysis
Your vocal cords are composed of muscles that are controlled by nerves, just like any other muscle in the body. There are multiple reasons for a vocal cord paralysis (loss of function of one or both vocal cords), including trauma, intubation, viral infections, systemic disorders. Treatment is available including vocal strengthening with speech therapy, and in some instances, surgical intervention called vocal cord medialization. This procedure is performed under the care of the Otolaryngologists at Sonoran Ear Nose and Throat.