Voice Disorders

Heather Lazarides, MS, CCC-SLP, BCS-S, CKTP+, explains what a voice disorder is and how they can be treated.

A voice disorder is a very prominent thing because it comes often from voice misuse or abuse. We see a lot of teachers who have to talk all day who end up getting these voice disorders from their vocal cords just reacting to the constant stress of them having to talk, yell, or wrangle up kids. I’m a high school volleyball coach, so after a couple of games or a tournament, I have a little bit of a voice disorder and a little bit of hoarseness as well. It just depends on if you chronically misuse your voice and vocal cords. Your vocal cords are going to swell and sometimes they get contact ulcers, polyps, or granulations from all of that stress and contact on them.

How do you diagnose and treat voice disorders?

We all work a lot with our machine that’s called a Visi-Pitch; with it, we can record and analyze people’s voices and get their voices to be in a more functional and safer environment. A specialized treatment I do at Memorial is a laryngeal voice. For people who had cancer and then had their voice boxes removed, I do a special procedure where I can put an artificial voice box that’s called the TEP into their throat, so they can sound and voice more normal than someone who doesn’t have that TEP. We can do lots of training with voice, with breathing. If you think about breathing, it’s the gas behind your voice, and a lot of people just need retraining with their breathing and how to use their throat muscles more appropriately.