Frequently Asked Questions

What causes hoarseness in the voice?

Hoarseness often describes a voice that sounds raspy, strained or deeper in pitch and can indicate a change has occurred with your vocal folds (cords).

The vocal folds are the sound-producing part of the larynx or voice box. The vocal folds remain apart when breathing, but create sound by vibrating together. Swelling or other conditions can prevent the vocal folds from vibrating properly. This can cause hoarseness or a change in voice pitch.

Straining the voice or a benign illness like laryngitis can cause these vocal fold conditions. Chronic, prolonged or reoccurring hoarseness may be a symptom of a more serious condition. For example, it may indicate a tumor of the larynx. For hoarseness that does not improve, see an otolaryngologist.

Can I improve the tone and quality of my voice?

Special exercises and therapies can train and improve the voice, like any muscle in the body. Speech pathologists are experts in these exercises and therapies. They use them with patients to strengthen and improve voice quality. This is true for patients who are singers, professional speakers, or average individuals.

We have a multidisciplinary team of voice specialists, including otolaryngologists and speech pathologists who can teach you these exercises and therapies.

What causes tumors or cancers of the voice box?

Smoking, especially in combination with heavy alcohol consumption, causes cancer of the larynx. The malignant laryngeal tumors that result interfere with vocal function. Exposure to toxic substances such as asbestos can also cause cancer of the larynx.

These factors can also cause benign (non-cancerous) laryngeal tumors called vocal nodules. Excessive voice strain may also contribute to the formation of vocal nodules. A virus of unknown origin can cause laryngeal papillomatosis, another kind of tumor.

How should a voice professional protect their voice? Are there special techniques for singers or speakers?

Professional singers and speakers depend on their voices for their livelihood. They use their voices more than the average person and under strenuous conditions. For these reasons, they must take extra care of their voices and avoid vocal fold misuse.

Trained singers usually know how to protect their voices. Many others, including commercial singers and professional speakers, may not know these techniques. Our special expertise with voice professionals can show you how to care for your voice. This will help prevent damage or injury that could harm your long-term voice quality.

How can I protect my voice?

You can take simple steps to take better care of your voice and avoid vocal strain. They include:

  • Don't smoke
  • Avoid shouting or straining the voice to prevent vocal fold abuse
  • Protect yourself from heat stroke
  • Drink lots of water to hydrate the voice box
  • Schedule periods of the day with no talking to allow the voice to rest
  • Sip warm water, tea or juice when possible to soothe the vocal chords
  • Swallow carefully and avoid repetitive clearing of the throat
  • Treat coughs as soon as possible and try to minimize hacking coughs
  • Practice good posture

How Can We Help You Today?

Need help? We will be delighted to assist you today, so please call us at 404-778-7777. We look forward to hearing from you.