It might start with hoarseness, or your voice could become breathy and soft. You feel discomfort or pain as you speak, or your voice might disappear entirely. Any of these conditions qualifies as voice disorders

There can be many reasons for these, from simple overuse to more complex conditions. Recovery may be a matter of rest, but recurring or chronic issues require specialized attention from Lakeshore Ear, Nose and Throat Center. Their team of physicians and speech pathologists regularly diagnose and treat patients with all types of vocal cord problems. 

Here are four of the most common voice disorders and why you may encounter them. 

1. Laryngitis

Vocal cords can sometimes swell, causing hoarseness or a complete loss of voice. The inflammation you experience with laryngitis causes the vocal cords to distort sounds that you usually have no problem creating. 

In most cases, laryngitis occurs because of a viral infection that’s short-lived. The infection passes and your voice returns to normal. You may be affected for about two weeks, and you can expect a full recovery. 

Chronic laryngitis is less common, and it may indicate a more serious problem. If, after two weeks, your voice hasn’t recovered or has worsened, it’s time to contact Lakeshore Ear, Nose and Throat. Seek immediate medical attention when laryngitis is accompanied by: 

  • Breathing difficulties
  • Persistent fever
  • Increasing pain
  • Blood is present when you cough

These additional symptoms could mean that you have epiglottitis, a potentially dangerous inflammatory condition. 

2. Lesions

Noncancerous growths can affect the vocal cords, causing voice disorders. These lesions include nodes, polyps, and cysts. Each of these cause hoarseness, and they may be associated with overuse of the voice or trauma to the vocal cords. 

Nodes resemble calluses located in the middle of the vocal cords, on both sides. Women from ages 20 to 50 are most affected, but men can be affected too. 

Polyps can affect either vocal cord or both. More like blisters than calluses, they’re often an issue for singers, teachers, and others whose profession involves plenty of talking. One type of polyp is closely associated with smoking. 

Cysts are less common, not usually related to vocal abuse, and more like pimples, with sacs that trap fluid, such as the mucus produced in the voice box. 

3. Muscle tension dysphonia

The causes behind muscle tension dysphonia aren’t well understood. As its name suggests, tension in the vocal cords interferes with normal voice function. Your voice may become husky and hoarse or weak and breathy. 

It can fail suddenly or fade, and it could feel as though you have something in your throat. Muscle tension dysphonia can be hard to diagnose. 

4. Contact ulcers

Acid reflux is often to blame for contact ulcers, but people who use their voices strongly without warming up can also develop this condition. These conditions cause the deterioration of the mucous membranes that keep the larynx moist and healthy. Recovery from contact ulcers can take months. 

Lakeshore Ear, Nose and Throat Center has five offices in the metropolitan Detroit area. Contact the closest office by phone or online to request your appointment today.