Voice is the sound made by air passing from your lungs through your larynx, or voice box. In your larynx are your vocal cords, two bands of muscle that vibrate to make sound. For most of us, our voices play a big part in who we are, what we do and how we communicate. Like fingerprints, each person’s voice is unique.
Voice problems occur with a change in the voice, often described as hoarseness, roughness, or a raspy quality. People with voice problems often complain about or notice changes in pitch, loss of voice, loss of endurance, and sometimes a sharp or dull pain associated with voice use. Other voice problems may accompany a change in singing ability that is most notable in the upper singing range.
Many things we do can injure our vocal cords. Talking too much, screaming, constantly clearing your throat or smoking can make you hoarse. These can also lead to problems such as nodules, polyps and sores on the vocal cords.
Other causes of voice disorders include infections, upward movement of stomach acids into the throat, growths due to a virus, neck or throat cancer and diseases that paralyze the vocal cords. Treatment for voice disorders varies depending on the cause. Most voice problems can be successfully treated when diagnosed early.
A more serious problem is indicated by spitting up blood or when blood is present in the mucus. Additionally, changes in the voice that have lasted longer than a few weeks or associated with any breathing problems is a signal that something more serious may be going on.