Voice Disorders Related to Underlying Structural Pathology or Behavioral Etiologies

Voice disorders occur in 1 out of 10 Americans. They can be associated with vocal overuse or abuse, they can be related to increased stress, or they can be associated with digestive tract problems such as acid reflux. Occasionally, they are an early sign of neurological disease or throat cancer. Voice problems include hoarseness, breathiness, vocal fatigue, or the use of a voice that is too low or too high in pitch. A voice that is too loud or too soft can also be problematic. Sometimes the voice spasms or breaks, such as in the rare voice disorder, spasmodic dysphonia. UIC speech pathologists work in conjunction with otolaryngologists, who first examine the laryngeal mechanism (throat) to determine the presence of any laryngeal pathology that might account for the voice disorder. They can also determine whether or not acid reflux is occurring. Medical and/or surgical treatment can then be planned. If no pathology is found requiring immediate surgical management, patients with be referred to an experienced speech pathologist for voice therapy. Usually, within 3-6 months, normal voice is restored. For additional information about treatment for voice disorders, please contact the UIC Voice Center at 312-413-8821.