Skip to main content
• Social Media: Connect with UsAccessibility  |  About  |  Contact  |  Privacy  |  Terms

Treatment for Persons with Dysphonia and Voice Problems

  • Published: 2010-09-20 : Duke University Medical Center.
  • Synopsis: Millions of Americans have dysphonia a hoarse or raspy voice that can cause pain when speaking and make it difficult to communicate.

Main Document

Millions with voice problems don't know treatment available.

Two-thirds of Americans with voice problems don't seek medical care either because they don't know treatment is available or because they think the problem will just go away, according to a new study conducted at the Duke Voice Care Center.

That's concerning, says Seth Cohen, MD, an otolaryngologist at Duke. "Voice disorders aren't benign nuisances that just go away. They are symptoms of a range of medical conditions from allergies to cancer. When caught early, the right treatment can make a big difference. Left untreated, they can become chronic problems that previous studies show have a major impact on quality-of-life issues, including an increased risk of depression. This study helps us understand the barriers preventing people from seeking treatment when there is so much at stake."

An estimated 20 million Americans have dysphonia, the clinical umbrella term for a hoarse or raspy voice that can cause pain when speaking and make it difficult to communicate effectively. Previous data link dysphonia to decreased work productivity and social isolation. Patients also incur financial burdens including rising health care costs. Overall, economic losses have been estimated in the billions.

"Dysphonia affects everyone at every age," says Cohen, author of the study that appears online in the journal Laryngoscope . "You don't have to have a vocally demanding job to suffer."

There's a host of conditions that lead to dysphonia, including tobacco, alcohol and caffeine use, certain medications, voice overuse/misuse, hearing loss, dry mouth and reflux. Dysphonia can also be sign of something more serious, like asthma, lung disease, Parkinson's or laryngeal cancer.

"You have no idea what is causing the problem or what the appropriate treatment should be until an evaluation is performed," says Cohen. That requires the use of a laryngoscope that threads a camera down the throat so doctors can determine the medical cause.

Few dysphonia patients go that route.

In the Duke study of 789 patients in a primary care network, nearly 30 percent (29.1 percent) had dysphonia at least once in their lifetime; 4.3 percent had it for more four weeks. More than half (54 percent) of those with current dysphonia had missed at least one day of work as a result of their condition. More than three-quarters (77.9 percent) of patients who had dysphonia more than once had never received treatment.

When asked why they didn't seek treatment:

Cohen says it's important for patients to understand that vocal disorders can get progressively worse when left alone.

"Patients who don't seek treatment get caught in a vicious cycle. As the problem becomes more chronic, patients seem to be accepting it, but that won't make the situation better," he says.

Rather than take vocal disorders for granted, Cohen stresses, "Patients need to become better advocates for their own health. They should talk to their doctor so they can get appropriately evaluated and a personalized treatment plan can be developed."

This study was funded by the American Academy of Otolaryngology - Head & Neck Surgery Foundation Health. The authors report no conflicts of interest.

Similar Topics

1 - Stuttering: Stop Signals in the Brain Prevent Fluent Speech - Max-Planck-Gesellschaft.
2 - Social Networking Helps Keep People Healthy - Society for Consumer Psychology.
3 - Organizations at High Risk from Cyber Attacks - Common Attack Methods Still Successful - EY.
4 - No More Locked Cellphones and Unlocking Fees Thanks to CRTC - Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission.
5 - What's (wrong) in a Name : Compensation and Kaabil - Jyotirmoy Talukdar.
From our Communication Information section - Full List (83 Items)

Submit disability news, coming events, as well as assistive technology product news and reviews.


Loan Information for low income singles, families, seniors and disabled. Includes home, vehicle and personal loans.


Famous People with Disabilities - Well known people with disabilities and conditions who contributed to society.


List of awareness ribbon colors and their meaning. Also see our calendar of awareness dates.


Blood Pressure Chart - What should your blood pressure be, and information on blood group types/compatibility.



1 - Virtual Reality Goes Magnetic with Electronic 'Skin' Sensors
2 - The Enormous Impact of Home Evictions on Mental Health
3 - Genes That Repair the Spinal Cord in Fish Are Also Present in Humans
4 - Slight Fluctuations in Movement Correspond to Autism Diagnoses
5 - wheelAIR Innovative New Cooling Wheelchair Backrest Wins Support on Dragons Den



Citation


Disclaimer: This site does not employ and is not overseen by medical professionals. Content on Disabled World is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. See our Terms of Service for more information.

Reporting Errors: Disabled World is an independent website, your assistance in reporting outdated or inaccurate information is appreciated. If you find an error please let us know.