Developing a problem with your voice can be upsetting when it’s a necessary tool for your profession. The WVU Medicine Voice Clinic provides evaluation and rehabilitation services for voice disorders affecting singers, actors, and anyone who uses their voice professionally, including teachers, salespeople, and broadcasters. WVU Medicine otolaryngologist Jason McChesney, MD, a fellowship-trained expert in voice disorders, provides information about conditions affecting professional voice users.
Be alert for any changes in your voice.
You know your voice better than anyone else. If you notice any of the following changes, schedule an evaluation:
- Your voice is hoarse, raspy, or whispery for longer than two weeks.
- Your voice sounds strained or choppy.
- You lose pitch more often.
- Your throat feels raw and painful.
- Your voice tires more easily.
- You’ve had a sudden voice change without any illness present.
Common voice disorders include laryngitis and benign growths.
For normal speech, your vocal cords need to touch together smoothly inside your larynx, which houses the vocal cords and is crucial to speech and breathing. Anything that interferes with vocal cord movement or contact can cause a voice disorder. Overuse of your voice while singing, talking, or coughing are some of the causes of voice disorders. Respiratory illness or allergies, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), smoking, and inhaling irritants are also contributors. You may experience laryngitis, a raspy or hoarse voice, due to inflammation of the vocal cords or benign (noncancerous) growths on the vocal cords that cause the voice to become hoarse and wheezy. If one or both vocal cords doesn’t open or close completely, it causes paralysis of the vocal cords and noisy or difficult breathing.
We’ll use the latest diagnostic tools to assess your disorder.
Your voice disorder treatment will begin with an examination by a laryngologist, which is an otolaryngologist (ear, nose, and throat physician) who specializes in disorders and treatment of the larynx and upper airway. We’ll perform a video examination in order to see how your larynx functions and to understand the full scope of your vocal problem. This test will often reveal sources of vocal fatigue, singing difficulties, pain caused by using your voice, or other issues.
Your care may include voice therapy, medication, or surgery.
A WVU Medicine laryngologist may recommend voice therapy as a first course of treatment for voice disorders in which voice misuse or abuse has caused an injury or a lesion on the vocal chords. We can help you eliminate harmful voice habits by learning proper voice techniques. Treatment options may also include medication to make your larynx healthier, reduce sinus drainage, and decrease inflammation of the vocal chords.
Some voice disorders require surgery if there is a lesion or growth that needs to be removed or another problem that is best managed with a surgical approach. If your vocal disorder requires surgery, we understand that it may make you nervous since your voice is your livelihood. Dramatic improvements in surgical treatments of voice disorders have occurred within the past decade. WVU Medicine Otolaryngology will provide you with the highest level of care throughout the procedure and during your postoperative voice treatment.
Are you concerned about a voice problem? Make an appointment with WVU Medicine otolaryngologist Dr. Jason McChesney: 855-WVU-CARE.