Speech-Language Pathology Department
Who We Are and What We Do
and answers about the voice and voice disorders
What exactly is involved
The voice is like a musical instrument. In a piano, the
fingers striking the keys is the force. The force behind
the voice is breath. A piano has a vibrator - the strings.
The voice vibrator is the vocal cords. The third component
is the resonator. In a piano it is the hollow case. In
the voice it is the throat, nose and mouth, which can
also change the sound by various movements. So, the breath
causes the vocal cords to vibrate creating the sound which
is then transformed to speech sounds or singing by movement
of the throat, lips, tongue, etc.
What do the vocal
cords look like?
The vocal cords are located inside the larynx or voice
box. They are actually tiny muscle's covered by mucous
membranes, like the lining of the nose. They are capable
of intricate movements, controlled by the cartilages.
Because they are muscle they re vulnerable to fatigue
and injury. Because they are covered in mucous membranes,
environmental irritants affect them.
My voice sounds raspy
sometimes. Do I have a voice problem?
A raspy voice, as hoarse vocal quality, inability to reach
singing notes that were once possible all are signs of
a possible voice problem. If there are no signs of a cold
or if any of these symptoms persist or become frequent,
it is advisable to have your vocal cords examined by an
Ears, Nose and Throat specialist. Early detection of a
potential problem is always wise.
What things are harmful
to my voice?
Things that are harmful to the vocal cords generally fall
into two categories: vocal abuse and vocal misuse. Abuse
typically involves straining of the vocal cords by screaming,
excessive coughing, excessive throat clearing or smoking.
Misuse means using a loudness or pitch that is inappropriate
for your voice or speaking when the throat muscles are
What can I do to
prevent a voice problem?
Use a microphone or a noise maker to get someone's
attention instead of yelling, cheering or screaming habitually.
Try to reduce background noise in noisy situations.
Face people you are talking to.
Don't speak during strenuous exercise.
Don't demand more of your voice than you would
the rest of your body.
Avoid exposure to excessive pollution and dehydrating
agents such as cigarette smoke, fumes, alcohol, caffeine
and dry air.
Remember that your vocal cords don't feel pain.
Listen to your voice. If it sounds sore, rest it until
it's clear again.