Many of us have experienced changes in our voice at one time or the other. It may vary from a minor often unnoticeable change to a completely inaudible voice. We can often guess with distinction the characteristic voice of a prayer warrior or preacher, a teacher trying to impart knowledge to children or a trader in the market trying to scream above the noise to draw attention to her wares. Voice changes may be a result of several factors from misuse of our vocal cords, through allergies and even the result of a cancer. No matter what you think about your new acquired voice, if it persists beyond three (3) weeks make sure you speak to an ear nose and throat (ENT) specialist.
A hoarse voice is no respecter of age; children as well as adults may be victims. Some children are born with deformities (congenital) that may contribute to a hoarse voice while others may acquire it just as adults do.
You may assume a voice change to be trivial but it contributes to several days off work and in struggling economies that still rejoice in several holidays, the impact of additional days off work from any cause can be devastating. Some voice changes may be so severe that the unfortunate victim will avoid people altogether and this form of self-isolation is often a recipe for depression.
A voice change may be a window to several things happening in the body and may include:
a. Scaring from neck surgery or direct trauma to front of neck
b. Foreign body in the throat or abrasion from certain medical procedures
a. These may be viral such as the common cold, bacterial, fungal or even TB
b. Reflux diseases including “heart burns”
c. Chronic cough from various reasons
a. They may be found attached to the larynx (voice box) or close by.
b. Some may not be cancerous but others may be.
5. Systemic Conditions (other disease conditions)
a. Thyroid disease (hypothyroidism)
b. Connective tissue disease such as rheumatoid arthritis
c. Certain heart conditions.
6. Brain and/or nerve abnormalities
a. Stroke or even a brain injury or growth within the brain
a. Ageing may cause voice changes
c. Alcohol abuse
d. Throat dehydration (you have to drink water)
e. Voice misuse or overuse
f. Improper throat clearing over a long time
g. Psychological stress
So that change in voice you noticed may be completely harmless or it may serve as a pointer to something sinister. Do not overlook voice changes that last for several weeks. At least get a competent health professional to advice.
Getting to the bottom of your voice change that may even sound more romantic than your natural voice may require several questions from your doctor as well as a physical examination including taking a look at the voice box and the surrounding area.
Getting back to winning ways with your voice will depend on what is causing your change but a few guidelines to prevent or manage may include:
1. Rest, liquids and voice therapy (to clear throat properly as well as efficient use of one’s voice)
2. Allergies that may cause overproduction of mucous in the throat should be tackled aggressively.
3. Smoking and Alcohol cessation
4. Medication where needed
5. Surgical intervention
Dear reader, make sure you get that extra exercise and healthy diet to keep your body healthy to fight many diseases including heart and the common cold all of which may have a bearing on your voice.
AS ALWAYS LAUGH OFTEN, WALK AND PRAY EVERYDAY AND REMEMBER IT’S A PRICELESS GIFT TO KNOW YOUR NUMBERS (blood sugar, blood pressure, blood cholesterol, BMI)
Dr. Kojo Cobba Essel
Moms’ Health Club
*Dr Essel is a medical doctor and is ISSA certified in exercise therapy and fitness nutrition.
Thought for the week – “Your lifestyle has more impact on your voice than you may think. Avoid harmful habits.”
1. Credit to Dr Kenneth Baidoo, ENT Specialist, KorleBu Teaching Hospital