Diagnosing vocal disorders


Some of the lesser known disorders speech and language pathologists treat are related to the voice and swallowing.

Broadcasters, actors, singers, and teachers are all considered professional voice users. Zeth Collum, a speech-language pathologist told us they are more likely to get a voice disorder.    

“Professional voice users and vocal athletes may stress or strain or push their voice to the max that actually causes damage, and the long term consequences aren’t that we are a little hoarse and our voice is weak but it can also affect them financially or socially,” said Collom.

When it comes to diagnosing a disorder, Collum said there are two different ways.

“We have two scopes that we can use. For you [Angelina] we did the nasal scope which goes through the nose down into the laryngeal airway, and essentially we look at the function of the true vocal folds using a strobe light to slow everything down a little bit to our eyes to look at your vocal fold function,” said Collom.

If you are someone who uses your voice excessively and you start noticing problems, Collom said you need to see a doctor right away.

“Excessive coughing can cause the vocal folds to come together and cause some damage and swelling. So, if you are hoarse for a little bit longer than, I would say 2 weeks, then you need to seek out a referral to an otolaryngologist or an ENT. They will assess to make sure there is nothing life threatening then they will make a referral to a speech-language pathologist, ideally with this equipment,” Collom said.

He told us the WT Speech and Hearing Clinic is lucky to have the equipment they do so their students can learn how to better diagnose and treat someone with a voice disorder.

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