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When talking is a problem

Vocalization is when noise is produced as air from the lungs is forced through the vocal cords in the larynx, or voice box. The sound is then manipulated by our tongue, soft palate and lips to produce recognizable speech to allow for communication. Abnormal speech can be due to many variables including abusing or using the voice incorrectly, infection, trauma or tumors of the structures that produce voice. Symptoms of conditions affecting voice include hoarseness, breathlessness, coughing, pain, enlarged lymph nodes, changes in the quality of sound being produced and the production of blood or mucus. These symptoms can be caused by diseases including laryngeal muscle paralysis (hoarseness), infections such as laryngitis, vocal cord polyps, cysts or nodules, smoking, allergies, and cancer. Reflux of stomach acid can also directly irritate the voice box with symptoms being worse in the morning. Laryngeal muscle paralysis is caused by damage to nerves and is due to injury, neck surgery including thyroid operations, neuronitis, and cancer including laryngeal cancer. Treatment is through an Ear Nose and Throat specialist or speech therapist. Occasionally surgery will be recommended after assessment, and retraining of speech might be offered. The best prevention of voice problems is to avoid smoking, yelling, talking loudly, clearing the throat and to drink lots of water and rest the voice as needed.

Source: summary of medical news story as reported by The Hindu

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About: When talking is a problem

Date: 3 July 2005

Source: The Hindu

Author: Dr P.S.N. Murthy


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