The voice is an extremely valuable resource for the human being: it is the most used means of communication, a working tool for many professionals, and a form of aesthetic expression before others. Its use and proper care increase the possibilities to maintain a healthy voice throughout our lives.
The voice is the sound produced by the vibration of the mucosa of the vocal cords as they approach each other as a result of the passage of air through the larynx. It is estimated that 5% of the population suffers from a voice disorder that requires the attention of a specialist. Specifically, voice professionals (announcers, teachers) are the ones who consult the fastest, and school teachers, the most affected by voice disorders. In fact, they are the second most frequent cause of sick leave in this professional group. Likewise, women suffer more voice disorders than the male population.
It is the most frequent pathology. Vocal misuse or abuse can trigger dysphonia, which is classified as organic and functional depending on whether there is an obvious anatomical lesion or not. Most of the voice problems are manifested by the presence of hoarseness, hoarseness, roughness, etc. Affected people have changes in tone, aphonia, and even sharp or dull pain associated with the use of the voice. The appearance of blood in saliva or mucus indicates a more serious problem.
Early diagnosis determines the effectiveness of the treatment of voice disorders. Thus, laryngeal cancer cure rates exceed 90% if detected early
Most frequent pathologies
There are a wide variety of causes that can lead to voice problems.
-Laryngitis is one of the most common disorders. This is inflammation of the vocal cords, which generally has its origin in viral infection of the upper airways. When the vocal cords are inflamed they vibrate differently and cause hoarseness. The best treatment, in this case, is the rest of the voice and good hydration. It is also important to take extreme care since inflamed vocal cords increase the risk of suffering from significant injuries or permanent damage.
-Reflux of stomach acid into the throat can lead to various throat symptoms, such as hoarseness, swallowing problems, and a sore throat. It is a disorder difficult to diagnose since half of the patients who suffer from this laryngopharyngeal reflux do not have burning, a symptom that traditionally accompanies gastroesophageal reflux. On the other hand, nocturnal laryngopharyngeal reflux is the most difficult to diagnose since it does not present with the usual symptoms but rather presents with throat irritation and hoarseness on waking, as well as an irritating cough predominantly at night.
-Other voice disorders are vocal cord injuries, which together with the abuse and misuse of the voice can lead to benign tumors. The tumors alter the normal vibration of the vocal cords and produce changes in voice quality. The most common injuries are nodules, which are usually corrected with rest and rehabilitation, and polyps or cysts, which may require surgical treatment
-Laryngeal cancer: Laryngeal cancer is a very serious disease that directly affects the voice of the patient. When cancer affects the vocal cords, the voice undergoes a change in pitch, which becomes hoarse and harsh. Other signs are difficulty swallowing and breathing, earache, or a lump in the neck. These symptoms usually appear quite early, so as soon as they are detected it is essential to go to the specialist. The appearance of hoarseness of more than a week without an apparent cause should alert us. Its early diagnosis guarantees that surgical or radiotherapy treatment obtains a cure rate greater than 90%. Although several factors are present among the causes of laryngeal cancer, it is mostly related to tobacco and alcohol consumption and to the human papillomavirus. That is why it is necessary to emphasize the importance that laryngeal cancer can be prevented by modifying lifestyle habits; that is to say, abandoning tobacco and alcohol intake; In the case of continuing with these habits, it is highly recommended to do scheduled periodic check-ups, even if there are no symptoms.
Measures to take care of the voice
When it comes to preventing voice problems or to maintain a healthy voice, some healthy measures can be followed:
-Drink between six and eight glasses of water a day: Maintaining a good state of hydration ensures optimal lubrication of the vocal cords. For this reason, it is recommended to reduce the consumption of those substances that cause dehydration, such as alcoholic beverages or those that contain caffeine.
-Do not smoke: Tobacco causes cancer of the lung and throat, in particular, and in many other organs. Specifically, it leads to permanent changes in the tone of the voice, its nature, and its ability.
-Do not abuse or misuse your voice: The voice is not indestructible, so you have to try not to yell or raise your voice too much when you are in noisy environments. If we notice that our throat is very dry or that the voice is becoming hoarse, we should stop talking.
-Do not clear your throat often: If you clear your throat frequently, it is recommended to see a specialist, since it can be caused by reflux, allergic diseases, and/or paranasal sinuses.
-Get enough sleep: The voice is very sensitive to lack of sleep. Sleeping less than six hours produces a predisposition to suffer from vocal injuries.