Aurora Speech Clinic serves York region with speech-language pathology treatments for adults as well as pediatric speech therapy.

Among the therapeutic areas of focus our clinic offers is speech therapy for voice disorders.

Individuals demonstrating voice disorders may have disordered pitch, loudness, resonance, rate of speech, shakiness, hoarseness, or other vocal qualities.

These symptoms interfere with their daily needs, even if those around them don’t perceive any issue. Voice disorders may present themselves in both children and adults.

At Aurora Speech Clinic, speech-language pathology for voice disorders can help.

Common Voice Disorders

“Voice disorders” is an umbrella term that refers to a variety of different concerns related to the production of sound by your larynx. Most commonly, they’re caused by an illness or injury to the vocal folds within your larynx.

Other causes may include respiratory illnesses, allergies, chronic GERD (acid reflux), misusing tobacco or alcohol, and misusing your voice (yelling, screaming, chronic throat clearing, etc).

Some of the more common voice disorders are listed below.

Vocal Fold Nodules

Vocal fold nodules are small, non cancerous growths that may develop on your vocal folds. They resemble a callous, and are usually caused by longer term vocal misuse. Those who use their voice professionally, such as singers, teachers, actors, public speakers, and other performers, may be at greater risk of vocal fold nodules. If left untreated, vocal fold nodules may become larger and harder, which may cause further vocal interference.

Vocal Fold Polyps

Vocal fold polyps are also non cancerous growths that may form on your vocal folds. They also frequently develop as a result of vocal misuse. In contrast to vocal fold nodules, however, vocal fold polyps more closely resemble a blister. They may also form through longer term vocal misuse, but they may also happen in a shorter amount of time (such as an evening of yelling at a concert).

Vocal Fold Paralysis Or Paresis

Vocal fold paralysis is a condition where your vocal folds are unable to move. In contrast, vocal fold paresis is a condition where your vocal folds have an impaired ability to move. This may be a single vocal fold (unilateral), or both (bilateral). This is caused by nerve damage, which can be caused by a stroke, traumatic brain injury, Parkinson’s disease, and others. It can affect your ability to speak, swallow, and in extreme cases, even breathe.


Laryngitis is an inflammation of your vocal folds. This inflammation will cause your vocal folds to swell, and as a result may interfere with their ability to produce sound. In some cases, laryngitis is acute and will get better on its own. However, chronic laryngitis presents with longer term symptoms. Chronic laryngitis may be caused by exposure to irritants like chemical fumes or tobacco smoke, misusing your voice, or certain infections. It may also be caused by chronic acid reflux, called reflux laryngitis, and may itself cause vocal fold paralysis, nodules, or polyps.

Spasmodic Dysphonia

Spasmodic dysphonia is a chronic neurological disorder that affects the way your vocal folds move. When attempting to speak, individuals with spasmodic dysphonia may notice tightness, spasming, hoarseness, or a strained, shaky voice. It’s often associated with Parkinson’s disease, though the exact cause is not always known.

Muscle Tension Dysphonia

Muscle tension dysphonia is a voice disorder where the muscles around your larynx become tight. This can put additional pressure on your laryngeal muscles, which can affect their ability to function. In particular, it may cause your voice to sound rough, hoarse, weak, strained. It may also cause pain or vocal fatigue, and can affect your pitch. The specific reason why this happens is not yet fully understood.

Paradoxical Vocal Fold Movement

Paradoxical vocal fold movement (PVFM) occurs when your vocal folds close when they should be opening. This may cause your vocal folds to partially or completely close, which may interfere with breathing. It may also lead to chronic coughing, rough voice, loss of voice, tightness in the throat, and lightheadedness. While there are no exact known causes of PVFM, symptomatic triggers may include acid reflux, stress, and exposure to allergens and tobacco smoke.

Chronic Coughing

A chronic cough is defined as a cough that lasts for four weeks or longer in adults, and eight weeks or longer in children. This may lead to a voice that sounds rough, as well as vocal soreness. Causes of chronic coughing include a respiratory illness, exposure to allergens, sinus issues, and chronic acid reflux.

How Can Speech Therapy For Voice Disorders Help?

Speech-language pathologists are trained in the assessment and treatment of voice disorders.

If you suspect you or a loved one has a voice disorder, your speech-language pathologist will begin with a comprehensive assessment.

Your speech therapist will evaluate a variety of vocal qualities, including pitch, resonance, loudness, and more. They will also look for signs of vocal fold inflammation, as well as the presence of nodules, polyps, or other vocal fold abnormalities.

Based on your diagnosis, your speech-language pathologist will then create a personalized speech therapy treatment plan for you.

Depending on the underlying cause of your voice disorder, this treatment plan may include the following:

Voice Therapy

Your speech-language pathologist will guide you through therapy sessions to address your voice disorder. These sessions may include vocal exercises, relaxation techniques, and strategies to improve breath support. The goal with voice therapy is to reduce vocal strain and improve the overall function of your voice.

Vocal Hygiene Education

Vocal hygiene refers to correcting behavioural patterns which may exacerbate your voice disorder. By addressing these vocal “bad habits”, individuals can protect their vocal folds and reduce symptoms. Vocal hygiene practices include proper hydration, avoiding vocal misuse, and mitigating any environmental factors which may impact your voice.

Breath Control And Support

Speech-language pathologists work with individuals who have difficulty controlling their breath. By providing postural improvements, increasing awareness of breath, and other breathing exercises, your speech therapist can help you manage the symptoms of your voice disorder.

Other Therapeutic Interventions

Other therapeutic interventions your speech-language pathologist may employ in treatment of your voice disorder may include:

  • Resonance training
  • Other behavioural interventions
  • SPEAK OUT! or LSVT LOUD, for those with voice disorders linked with neurological conditions like Parkinson’s disease
  • Muscle relaxation techniques
  • Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) methods
  • Collaboration with ENTs and other healthcare providers

Book Your Appointment With Aurora Speech Clinic Today

If you suspect you or a loved one may have a voice disorder, it’s a good idea to speak with a speech-language pathologist.

Intervening early in voice disorders may lead to more successful treatment outcomes.

Book your appointment with Aurora Speech Clinic today.