What are voice disorders?

The voices of babies, children, adolescents, adult men and women all are different! Each of these groups has distinctive characteristics. When the pitch, quality or loudness of a voice differs from that which is expected in the voices of others of the same age, sex or cultural background, we call it as deviant or defective. Many people are unpleasant to hear. This could be due to their peculiar voices. Some might have inappropriate pitch or some might have a poor quality or some other may speak too soft or too loud.

Children are equally affected by voice disorders. They may develop a harsh, breathy or hoarse voice or may speak too softly. A poor voice quality may affect the child’s communication abilities and the way in which other people look at him, which indirectly influences his self-esteem and confidence.

Although now, there are instruments available to assist in objectively measuring pitch, loudness and some aspects of the quality of voice, still normal and abnormal voice is more of a subjective measure.

Prevalence of voice disorders

No fixed data is available. School children show wide variation from a few to 20 %. More adults are seen to exhibit voice disorders. Acute temporary conditions such as colds, laryngitis, and other respiratory disturbances may cause hoarseness, breathiness, hypo nasality and other vocal variations which are of limited concern.

Voice has a few distinctive features – Pitch, Loudness and Quality.