Types of Voice Disorders

Instructor: Elizabeth Hemmons

Beth has taught early childhood education, including students with special needs, for the past 11 years. She has a bachelor's degree in Elementary Education.

Voice disorders can be the cause of many vocal problems. In this lesson, we will identify the types of voice disorders and describe some of their characteristics.

Voice Disorders

Your student Jose has a difficult time speaking in class. He is hard to understand and his voice sounds hoarse. Jose could have lost his voice from seasonal allergies, a cold, or even screaming on a roller coaster over the weekend. However, if you have noticed that Jose's voice is always hoarse, it is more than likely that he suffers from a voice disorder. Voice disorders are medical conditions that affect the larynx and cause abnormal sounds when speaking. They can affect the pitch, volume, and quality of the voice.

Because there are a variety of voice disorders, they can be tricky to diagnose. In this lesson, we will discuss different types of voice disorders.

Vocal Cord Nodules and Polyps

If you use your voice too much or incorrectly, you may suffer from vocal cord nodules or polyps. These form when your vocal cords are abused or overused. A nodule is a soft callus-like spot that forms on the vocal cords. They are usually benign (non-cancerous) and over time get harder as the vocal cords get more abuse. A polyp is more of a blister-type growth on one or both of the vocal cords. This can be formed from abusing the voice as well.

Both nodules and polyps can cause similar symptoms and can be diagnosed by an otolaryngologist (ear, nose, and throat doctor) or sometimes by your general practitioner.

Some common symptoms of these disorders are:

  • 'Scratchy' or hoarse-sounding voice for multiple weeks
  • A feeling of a 'lump in the throat'
  • Pain in the throat, between the ears, or in the neck
  • Reduced pitch range of voice
  • Physical fatigue (body or voice)

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