What is voice?

Voice is the sound we make when we are talking. As we breathe out we use the air from our lungs to vibrate the vocal cords very quickly and this makes a buzzing sound. This sound then travels through the throat, nose and mouth, and we use the tongue and lips to shape this buzzing sound into words and sentences.

What is a voice problem or voice disorder?

The following are signs of a voice problem or disorder. If you have any of the following signs frequently or lasting longer than two weeks, you should be seen by an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) specialist:

  • Hoarseness
  • Tired voice
  • Complete loss of voice
  • Soreness in the throat when speaking
  • High or low pitch
  • Loud or soft voice
  • Reduced pitch range during singing

Voice disorders may result from damage to the vocal cords from surgery, injuries to the head and/or neck, illness (e.g., virus, acid reflux), abuse to the vocal cords (e.g., yelling, throat clearing) or speaking with tense throat muscles.

What are the typical assessment procedures?

When you are referred to Nova Scotia Hearing and Speech Centres (NSHSC) for a voice problem, you will be sent a case history form in the mail to fill out and return to us. You will need to attend a voice education session before you are seen for voice assessment. The voice assessment is completed by a speech-language pathologist (S-LP). The S-LP will assess the sound of your voice, how you use your voice, and other possible factors that may be contributing to your voice problem (e.g., throat clearing). We do not directly look at your vocal cords during this exam. We may use a microphone and computer to examine the quality of your voice.

Click here to download the Voice Case History Form.

Who can be referred?

Anyone who is having voice problems MUST be seen by an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) specialist before being seen for voice therapy at NSHSC. Patients can be seen for a voice assessment without an ENT referral.

Who can refer?

You, your family doctor or ENT specialist can refer to NSHSC if you are having a voice problem but we MUST have a recent report from an ENT specialist who examined your vocal cords before you can be seen at NSHSC for a voice problem.

Click here to download the NSHSC referral form.

Who should be contacted with the referral?

Referrals and questions may be directed to your local NSHSC site.