Voice Disorders

Voice Disorders

Voice Disorders services offered in Los Gatos, CA

Being unable to speak clearly can make communication difficult and affect your self-esteem. If you have problems making yourself understood, contact Silicon Valley ENT & Sinus Center: Philip T. Ho, MD, FACS, in Los Gatos, California. Board-certified ear, nose, and throat expert Dr. Ho is the Director of Speech and Swallowing at El Camino Hospital in Los Gatos and an expert in diagnosing voice disorders. To benefit from Dr. Ho’s expertise, call Silicon Valley ENT & Sinus Center or complete the online form to arrange an appointment today.

What are voice disorders?

Voice disorders affect your speaking ability, altering your voice’s volume, pitch, or overall quality.

Organic voice disorders develop because of structural or neurological (brain and nervous system) abnormalities. Examples include vocal cord nodules (small growths) and nerve dysfunction causing vocal cord spasms or paralysis. 

If you have a functional voice disorder, your larynx (voice box) is healthy and working properly, but you don’t use vocal mechanisms appropriately. Sometimes, voice disorders develop because of psychological stress or trauma.

What are the symptoms of voice disorders?

Voice disorders cause speaking problems such as:

  • Hoarseness
  • Breathiness
  • Shakiness
  • Weakness
  • Strained or strangled qualities
  • Abnormal pitch, resonance, or volume
  • Voice loss
  • Abnormal breaks in sounds or syllables
  • Chronic throat clearing or coughing

It might be an effort for you to speak and something that requires concentration rather than being an automatic function. You may also have dysphagia (difficulty swallowing).

How are voice disorders diagnosed?

Dr. Ho completes a thorough physical exam and might perform an in-office diagnostic procedure. Options include:

Fiberoptic laryngoscopy

Fiberoptic laryngoscopy involves inserting an endoscope (a miniaturized camera on a flexible tube) into your throat. The camera provides Dr. Ho with detailed pictures of your throat and larynx that he views on a monitor screen.

Video stroboscopy

Video stroboscopy uses synchronized light flashes to observe vocal fold vibrations when you produce sounds.

Swallowing studies

Swallowing studies include barium, modified barium, and video swallows (videofluoroscopic swallow study or VFSS). They involve swallowing a barium solution that shows up on diagnostic imaging studies.

Barium swallows show how liquid travels down your esophagus and into the stomach. Modified barium swallows analyze how you swallow in three stages, from your mouth to your pharynx and then the upper esophagus. A VFSS is a moving X-ray version of a modified barium swallow.

Dr. Ho can also perform in-office sensory testing to evaluate nerve function in your throat.

How are voice disorders treated?

Successfully treating your voice disorder depends on its cause. If you have nodules on your vocal cords or another form of organic voice disorder, Dr. Ho may perform surgery to correct the problem.

For many people, speech therapy is invaluable in overcoming voice disorders. You learn how to exercise and strengthen your vocal cords, use deep breathing techniques to increase voice projection, and relaxation techniques to reduce tension around your larynx.

If you have difficulty speaking clearly, contact Silicon Valley ENT & Sinus Center or book an appointment online today for expert diagnosis and treatment.