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Voice and Resonance

Voice problems

A person ​may have a voice problem if their voice is different in pitch, loudness, or quality from people of similar age, gender, cultural background, or location.

You can’t tell what’s causing the problem from the sound of the person’s voice. If the person has vocal nodules (growths on the vocal chords that aren’t cancerous), their voice may sound worse than someone with cancer in their voice box (larynx). A person’s voice can change slowly or suddenly.

Voice problems can be caused by:

  • abusing your voice (e.g., using a pitch that’s too high or low, using your voice too much, screaming)
  • vocal cord lesions (e.g., nodules, polyps) that are not cancerous
  • upper respiratory infections (e.g., colds, bronchitis)
  • breathing problems
  • acid reflux (stomach acid backing up into your throat)
  • neurological problems (e.g., stroke, brain injury, Parkinson’s disease)
  • surgery
  • accidents
  • throat cancer
  • muscle tension
  • stress and mental health problems

Symptoms of voice problems include:

  • having a raspy or hoarse voice
  • feeling like you often have a lump in your throat
  • feeling like it’s an effort to talk
  • feeling like your voice gets weaker the more you talk
  • not being able to sing high notes any more
  • often having a raw, strained, or sore feeling in your throat
  • feeling like you have to clear your throat a lot
  • having a voice problem that’s lasted more than 2 or 3 weeks

If you have any of these symptoms, you may have a voice problem.​​​

Where to go get help

For more information about how speech-language pathologists and audiologists can help, contact:

  • Your doctor, public health nurse, or other health provider
  • Your local health centre​

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