Private Speech Pathologists Association of WA

What is Voice?

Voice refers to the sound produced by the voice box (larynx) when speaking.

How is Voice Produced?

Air passes from the lungs through the larynx when breath is released. Generally there is no sound made by this simple act of breathing. By closing the vocal folds like a valve, the air passes gently between them, vibrating the folds and producing voice (speech, singing, laughing, crying and coughing)

What is a “Problem” Voice?

Voice is considered a problem when it feels or sounds different to what a person normally produces or if there is pain associated with vocal use. It is a problem when the pitch, loudness, or quality calls attention to itself rather than to what the speaker is saying. A person may use a voice which is too high or too deep, too loud or too soft, too hoarse, breathy, or nasal. A normal voice varies greatly according to its pitch, loudness and quality. It is usually judged according to a listener’s perception as to whether it is adequate for communication and suits that particular person.

What Causes a Voice Problem?

There are a variety of causes of voice problems in adults and children.
People can become hoarse temporarily by cheering at a sporting event or following a throat infection, but these problems are usually temporary and resolve quickly. Some don’t get better by themselves and need to be assessed by a specialist dealing with voices. Causes can be due to habitual overworking, nerve impairment, or injury and disease of the larynx.

How Can a Speech Pathologist Help?

A Speech Pathologist will assess and provide specialised voice therapy by teaching an improved voice production technique, recommending some modifications to a person’s environment and referring the patient for medical diagnosis when necessary.

It is always advisable that a person experiencing a persistent voice problem sees an Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist for diagnosis, to indicate the most appropriate course of treatment.