People develop voice problems for many reasons. Doctors who specialize in ear, nose and throat disorders and speech pathology specialists are involved in diagnosing and treating voice disorders.

Treatment depends on what's causing your voice disorder, but may include voice therapy, medication, injections or surgery.


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. Your vocal cords are two flexible bands of muscle tissue that sit at the entrance of the windpipe. 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:

Risk factors

Many risk factors can contribute to a voice disorder, including:

Voice disorders care at Mayo Clinic

Oct. 02, 2020
  1. Bruch JM. Hoarseness in adults. https://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed May 13, 2017.
  2. Vocal cord paralysis. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/vocal-fold-paralysis. Accessed May 13, 2017.
  3. Voice reference guide. The Voice Foundation. http://voicefoundation.org/health-science/voice-disorders/. Accessed May 13, 2017.
  4. 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 14, 2017.
  5. Kallvik E, et al. Vocal symptoms and voice quality in children with allergy and asthma. Journal of Voice. In press. Accessed May 13, 2017.
  6. Mascarella MA, et al. In-office excision en masse of a vocal process granuloma using the potassium-titanyl-phosphate laser. Journal of Voice. 2016;30:93.
  7. Koss SL, et al. Serial in-office laser treatment of vocal fold leukoplakia: Disease control and voice outcomes. The Laryngoscope. In press. Accessed May 13, 2017.
  8. Morrow EM. Allscripts EPSi. Mayo Clinic. Aug. 19, 2020.
  9. Ekbom DC (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic. Sept. 4, 2020.
  10. Vocal fold paralysis. American-Speech-Language-Hearing Association. https://www.asha.org/public/speech/disorders/Vocal-Fold-Paralysis/. Accessed Sept. 4, 2020.


News from Mayo Clinic

Products & Services