Many do not realise what the voice is or what can go wrong with it. The medical term for a voice disorder is dysphonia
Voice disorders are usually caused by something wrong in the voice box (larynx) and/or a problem in the respiratory system (lungs and windpipe), or the spaces above the voice box, such as the tongue, mouth, soft palate, nose or pharynx.
Voice disorders may be due to an organic or structural problem in the voice box, or may be caused by the the way the muscles are used to produce the voice. Some are born with abnormalities to the voice box, or they may be acquired at any stage in life. There may be discomfort in the vocal tract accompanying the voice disorder. Sometimes voice problems are caused by underlying stresses or emotional imbalances which are expressed through the voice.
The best way to realise what is wrong with the voice is to have it examined. This can be done when awake (fibre-optic nasoendoscopy) or when asleep (microlayrngobroncoscopy). This is usually done by an ENT specialist.
Some people require surgery to improve the voice, others need medication and many usually need voice therapy from a qualified Speech and Language Therapist specialising in voice disorders. Surgery is not normally recommended for young children unless they have a life-threatening disorder or is required to manage the airway. This is because the vocal folds in young children are still developing and surgery may result in long-term scarring affecting vocal function.