Navigating some of the possibilities of what might be wrong with your voice

Something is happening to your voice and you’re not sure what. Whether it is short-term, intermittent or is happening all the time, these changes can cause so much impact on your life as you navigate through medical professionals, your emotions and trying to do everything you always did before but with a voice that is limiting you.

We have built a site full of information to guide you on what it might be. If you already have a diagnosis, you will also find valuable tools, like healthcare professionals who can help with diagnosis and treatment and support groups to connect you with people who understand first-hand what you are experiencing.

Where to Start

So where to start when something is happening to your voice? Your doctor. There is no one path but here are some of the types of healthcare professionals you may see along your journey. And some voice clinics have an interdisciplinary approach where you’ll be treated by a team.

General Practitioner

Often times, your general practitioner may start the process to determine what might be going on with your voice. There are so many things that can impact your voice, so it is important to not only be patient, but to also be your own advocate and research voice issues. This way you will be informed and ready to have a productive conversation.

The Specialists

Your general practitioner may refer you to an ENT specialist, who is also called an ear, nose, and throat doctor or an otolaryngologist (ENT). Otolaryngology is the medical specialty that deals with disorders and conditions of the ear, nose, and throat (ENT) region, and related areas of the head and neck. They will use scopes and other tools to find the proper diagnosis so that treatment can begin.

Because some voice disorders, like spasmodic dysphonia, are rare, you may be referred to a subspecialist called a laryngologist. Laryngology is a subspecialty within otolaryngology (ear, nose, and throat) that deals with disorders of voice, airway and swallowing. Through postgraduate fellowship training, a laryngologist has special expertise in the diagnostic and therapeutic approaches to problems in these areas. Often times, they are also active in clinical and/or basic science research to help advance the understanding of the field.

A speech-language pathologist can help with voicing and breathing techniques and often works with an ENT on treatment of disorders like spasmodic dysphonia. Training to be a SLP includes post-graduate university training, certification from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (the initials CCC-SLP), and licensing from the state in which she or he practices. Although all SLPs receive some training in voice problems, considerable additional clinical experience is required to conduct effective voice therapy.

Since some voice disorders like SD have a neurological component, an appointment with a neurologist that focuses on movement disorders (movement disorder specialist), will help determine if there are any neurological components present.

Finally, a Diagnosis

Once you have a diagnosis, you may feel like a weight has lifted, but this can also lead to many more questions. Now the rest of the work needs to be done, like understanding what you are dealing with, treatment options and rebuilding your self-confidence. It may be challenging to hear that this is a lifelong disorder, but you are not alone as you navigate these next steps. This site is full of information for you and we are here to help.