What is dysphonia?

Dysphonia (or hoarseness) is an incredibly common voice disorder. It is due to the inability to properly form sounds due to problems with the organs of sound. The vocal cords (or voice box) is the most important but the lungs, trachea (wind pipe) and mouth all play a role in shaping our voice.

The causes are incredibly varied, from viral laryngitis to cancers. It’s important that persistent hoarseness is properly evaluated by a specialist to find out the cause.

What are common causes?

  • Viral laryngitis
    • Inflammation of the larynx from an URTI
  • Muscle tension dysphonia
    • Involuntary use of the muscles surrounding the voice box, instead of the vocal cords
  • Vocal nodules (singers nodules)
    • These are thickening on the vocal cords from overuse, they are often seen in singers and those who strain their voice regularly (eg sporting coaches)
  • Gastro-oesophageal Reflux Disease (GORD)
    • Unfortunately caid reflux can cause lots of problems other than heartburn. Swelling of the cords from acid is very common and impairs healing after voice surgery
  • Laryngeal Cancer
    • Cancer of the larynx usually presents in heavy smokers after the age of 40. It can very rarely occur in non-smokers also. If diagnosed early, it has an excellent prognosis.

Our surgeons are fully trained in the accurate diagnosis and treatment of voice disorders. If you are worried about changes to your voice, speak to your GP.


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