- Team approach. The treatment team for voice disorders at Mayo Clinic is usually led by an ear, nose and throat (ENT) doctor experienced in voice problems. He or she consults as needed with other specialists to develop a treatment plan that's right for you.
- Expert resources. Your treatment team also includes Ph.D.- and master's-level speech-language pathologists who specialize in evaluating and treating voice disorders.
- Experience. Mayo Clinic specialists are experienced in treating all types of voice disorders. They have particular expertise in the microscopic removal of lesions on the vocal cords and in treating vocal cord paralysis. Mayo Clinic specialists treat nearly 10,000 people with voice disorders each year.
- State-of-the-art technology. Mayo Clinic uses the latest technology to accurately diagnose and treat voice disorders, including potassium titanyl phosphate (KTP) laser treatment done while you're awake. KTP laser therapy can allow the removal of vocal cord lesions while preserving the maximum amount of underlying tissue.
- Efficient care. At Mayo Clinic, your appointments are coordinated, so you usually can complete your testing and treatment within a few days.
Your voice box (larynx) is made of cartilage, muscle and mucous membranes located at the top of your windpipe (trachea) and the base of your tongue. Sound is created when your vocal cords vibrate.
This vibration comes from air moving through the larynx, bringing your vocal cords closer together. Your vocal cords also help close your voice box when you swallow, preventing you from inhaling food or liquid.
If your vocal cords become inflamed, develop growths or become paralyzed, they can't work properly, and you may develop a voice disorder.
Some common voice disorders include:
- Neurological voice disorders (spasmodic dysphonia, pronounced spaz-MOD-ik dis-FOE-nee-uh)
- Polyps, nodules or cysts on the vocal cords (noncancerous lesions)
- Precancerous and cancerous lesions
- Vocal cord paralysis or weakness
- White patches (leukoplakia, pronounced loo-koh-PLAY-key-uh)
Many factors can contribute to a voice disorder, including:
- Alcohol use
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Illnesses, such as colds or upper respiratory infections
- Improper throat clearing over a long time
- Neurological disorders
- Psychological stress
- Scarring from neck surgery or from trauma to the front of the neck
- Throat dehydration
- Thyroid problems
- Voice misuse or overuse
Read more about laryngitis, leukoplakia, allergies, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), throat cancer and vocal cord paralysis at Mayo Clinic.
Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., ranks #1 for ear, nose and throat in the U.S. News & World Report Best Hospitals rankings. Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Ariz., is ranked among the Best Hospitals, and Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla., is ranked high performing for ear, nose and throat by U.S. News & World Report.
Mayo Clinic: Answers you can trust
At Mayo Clinic, we assemble a team of specialists who take the time to listen and thoroughly understand your health issues and concerns. We tailor the care you receive to your personal health care needs. You can trust our specialists to collaborate and offer you the best possible outcomes, safety and service.
Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit medical institution that reinvests all earnings into improving medical practice, research and education. We're constantly involved in innovation and medical research, finding solutions to improve your care and quality of life. Your doctor or someone on your medical team is likely involved in research related to your condition.
Our patients tell us that the quality of their interactions, our attention to detail and the efficiency of their visits mean health care — and trusted answers — like they've never experienced.
Why Choose Mayo Clinic
What Sets Mayo Clinic Apart
June 19, 2015
- Common problems that can affect your voice. American Academy of Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery. http://www.entnet.org/content/common-problems-can-affect-your-voice. Accessed May 17, 2015.
- Cook AJ. Decision Support System. Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. May 18, 2015.
- Bruch JM. Hoarseness in adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed May 17, 2015.
- Simberg S, et al. Vocal symptoms and allergy: A pilot study. Journal of Voice. 2009;23:136.
- Voice information. The Voice Foundation. http://voicefoundation.org/health-science/voice-disorders/overview-of-diagnosis-treatment-prevention/. Accessed May 17, 2015.
- Doherty GM, ed. Otolaryngology — Head & Neck Surgery. In: Current Diagnosis & Treatment: Surgery. 13th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2010. http://www.accessmedicine.com. Accessed May 17, 2015.
- Vocal cord paralysis. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. http://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/voice/pages/vocalparal.aspx. Accessed May 18, 2015.
- Ekbom DC (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. May 26, 2015.