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Voice problems: what is functional dysphonia

Dysphonia works is a disorder that causes an alteration of the voice, and that can be associated with or lead to an injury to the vocal cords. It is characterized by an abnormal quality of the voice, without an identifiable cause and usually caused by inappropriate use of the voice. Specialists in the Otorhinolaryngology services of the hospitals of the Ribera health group assure that, sometimes, there is no source of an injury to the vocal cords, but this can occur, if speech therapy treatment is not initiated. For example, it can be the cause of vocal cord nodules, polyps or vocal cord edema.

In addition to functional dysphonia, it can be organic (caused by an organic disorder), psychogenic (due to psychological aspects), traumatic (due to internal or external trauma) and audiogenic (due to a hearing deficit).
But returning to functional dysphonia, there are profiles of patients who have a greater chance of developing this pathology, for example, people who work a lot with the voice and who are more at risk of suffering from this functional dysphonia, among others, teachers or teachers and singing professionals.

How to identify a functional dysphonia
Elena Aránzazu, speech therapist at the Ribera health group, explains that most people have suffered from aphonia at some point. “But if these aphonias are repeated often over time, last more than 4 days and we can’t find an apparent cause, it’s time to go to a professional to assess our case and avoid bigger injuries”, he says.
The most recommended treatment consists of doing vocal exercises, which improve the vibration of the vocal cords and, as a consequence, the quality of the voice, as well as reducing the severity of the injury or preventing its occurrence. The Ribera health group has developed an online program for the treatment of dysphonia, through videos on its YouTube channel, whose aim is to facilitate the rehabilitation of patients suffering from this pathology and make it compatible with their personal and work obligations on a day-to-day basis. It consists of five videos of four minutes each and the initial video (which can be viewed here) outlines the protocol for carrying out the treatment.

In addition, it is important to rest the vocal cords and talk as little as possible for at least two days; and avoid whispering, because the vocal cords are strained, even if it doesn’t seem like it, as well as follow the advice we provide below to prevent dysphonia.

How to prevent aphonia or functional dysphonia

  • Do not darken
  • Drink water regularly. Hydrate properly.
  • Avoid dry environments and sudden temperature changes.
  • Avoid smoke, tobacco and alcohol.
  • Rest properly. Sleep at least eight hours.
  • Reduce caffeine consumption.

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