Voice impairment has many different causes

Approximately 7.5 million people in the United States have trouble using their voices according to the National Institutes of Deafness and Communication Disorders but the symptoms and the causes are varied. No matter the cause, a voice condition can have a traumatic effect on an individual.

Persons with a change of voice quality often say they are “hoarse.” In the world of medicine, the word “dysphonia” is used to mean essentially the same thing. Literally, this term means “abnormal sound of the voice. Dysphonia (hoarseness) is very common. It affects nearly one-third of the population at some point in their lives.

According to the American Academy of Otolaryngology, the term dysphonia is used to characterize an abnormal voice quality, pitch (how high or low the voice is), volume (loudness), or vocal effort that makes it difficult to communicate as judged by a health care provider. The symptom of hoarseness is related to problems in the sound-producing parts (vocal cords or folds) of the voice box or larynx. Your voice may have a raspy, weak, or airy quality that makes it hard for you to make smooth vocal sounds.

The NSDA is dedicated to being a resource for persons with spasmodic dysphonia and related voice conditions like muscle tension dysphonia, vocal tremor and vocal cord paralysis. These specific causes of dysphonia are our current focus. We offer well-developed support and tools for spasmodic dysphonia and have begun to build a collection for the related disorders. This section will continue to be expanded as new materials become available.

If you are a person asking “what’s wrong with my voice,” we have included below a list of different voice conditions.

Dr. Robert Bastian has generously allowed the NSDA to reprint this information on voice disorders. Full descriptions of these voices disorders can be found at his teaching website, Laryngopedia (www.laryngopedia.com).   

Special thanks to Dr. Robert Bastian for generously allowing the NSDA to reprint this information on voice disorders. Full descriptions of these voices disorders can be found at Laryngopedia (www.laryngopedia.com).