Dysphonia is any alteration that occurs in the emission of the voice. In the non-medical field or in layman’s terms it is known as hoarseness, so the patient reports that has the “hoarse voice”. People who work or practice their profession using the voice as their main tool are more exposed to dysphonia; these are teachers, announcers, singers, call center employees, telephone operators, speakers, receptionists and voice professionals.
Those people with altered phonatory habits are also more predisposed to dysphonia. Gastroesophageal and extraesophageal reflux are harmful factors that can themselves generate or aggravate dysphonia. Emotional factors also greatly influence the voice and make the person more vulnerable to dysphonia.
The vocal cords are the source of voice emission, they are found in the larynx and there are two, each one on a side. To be able to make sounds, the person must make a good air inspiration, and then during expiration produce the mobility of the vocal cords. This combination will allow the strings to join in the midline and vibrate, generating the emission of sound. Dysphonia is a symptom that implies a disturbance in the quality and/or quantity of the voice, which will cause that it turns off or alters its timbre.
How is Dysphonia Studied?
The person in charge of studying dysphonia is the otolaryngologist. The sound of the voice emitted by the patient is fundamental to suspect the reason and the presence of a vocal cord injury. A study called fibrolaryngoscopy can be done through the mouth or nose. Its objective is to observe the vocal cords at rest and in movement.
The dysphonia due to acute laryngitis is produced mainly by a viral agent and usually resolves spontaneously. In these cases, a thorough study of the patient is not necessary. When dysphonia is related to work or a functional/ organic cause is suspected, it must be deeply studied.
What Are The Causes Of Dysphonia?
In General Terms, Dysphonia Can Be Differentiated Into Two Large Groups: Organic and functional. In some cases the causes overlap and the reasons for dysphonia are more than one.
Sometimes the patient consults referring laryngeal hiatus. The laryngeal hiatus is a condition by which the vocal cords cannot get close enough to the midline producing a blown voice with air escape. This phenomenon can be observed in patients with both functional and organic pathology. The diagnosis “laryngeal hiatus” may be insufficient if it is not clear what the reason for this hiatus is. Therefore, lately, experts are trying to avoid this term and replace it directly for the cause that produces it, for example intracordal cyst.
Organic Dysphonia Causes
- Vocal cord nodule
- Vocal cord polyps
- Cordal cyst
- Recurrent paralysis
- Laryngeal dystonia
- Vocal cord tumor
- Reinke’s edema
- Acute and/or chronic laryngitis
- Laryngeal stenosis
- Intracordal hematoma
- Reflux laryngitis.
Functional Dysphonia Causes
- Pityatic dysphonia
- Spastic dysphonia
- Other alterations of the phonatory habit (incorrect use of the voice) that produce symptoms such as: vocal fatigue, throat clearing, foreign body sensation, vocal tension, pain when speaking, need to increase the volume of the voice, dysphonia of the weekend or of the end of day with transitory recoveries.
How Do You Get Rid Of A Hoarse Voice?
For each cause there is a specific treatment. The most used therapeutic tools are: Vocal rest, phoniatric rehabilitation, anti-reflux treatment and endoscopic surgical treatment (laryngeal microsurgery). Laryngeal microsurgery is performed for multiple purposes. Sometimes it is used for diagnostic purposes, to determine the type of injury in the larynx, its extension and invasion. It allows taking a biopsy for definitive diagnosis. Also, in many cases, it allows the definitive treatment of the problem, both for benign and malignant pathologies.
In order to get rid of hoarse voice, the underlying cause of laryngitis must be treated. There are some measures you can take such as rest your voice as much as possible, stay hydrated which will help dilute mucus and ensure that your vocal cords and throat are fully hydrated.