Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: Why is my doctor referring me for voice therapy?
Though not all voice disorders can be eliminated through voice therapy, for many voice problems it is the first course of treatment. Functional voice disorders caused by poor vocal habits can often be remediated through training in healthful voice production techniques.  Even patients with voice disorders that do not tend to resolve with therapy alone can benefit significantly from voice therapy in addition to medical or surgical treatment.

Q: What will happen in the voice evaluation?
 The speech pathologist will start by taking your medical history and recording brief samples of your voice.  You will be asked to speak into a microphone several times and at various pitches for acoustic computer analysis of your voice.  You will produce sounds for the speech pathologist to time and evaluate.  You may be asked to blow into a tube to test lung capacity.  The evaluation ends with counseling on healthy voice habits and ways you can begin to improve your voice while you are waiting for your first therapy appointment.

Q: What is voice therapy and how often will I attend?
Generally, adults meet weekly with the speech pathologist for 40 minutes and children meet twice weekly for shorter sessions.   Most often, the patient learns various exercises related to breath support, laryngeal relaxation, vocal resonance and projection. There are various techniques that are particular to the individual person and their diagnosis.  Brief but frequent daily home practice by the patient is essential to achieve the most rapid and significant improvement.  Specific needs of professional voice users are also addressed.

Q: How long does a course of voice therapy last?
Most patients can achieve significant improvement within 12 weeks of therapy, with some requiring more or less time.  Of course, the duration of therapy is dependent on the individual patient, the type of disorder requiring treatment, and the patient’s response to therapy techniques.  Regular weekly attendance is a highly significant factor in achieving a successful outcome.

Q: What can I do to improve my vocal health even before starting therapy?
Most voice patients can benefit from following these Vocal Hygiene Guidelines:

  • Use a moderate vocal loudness and avoid talking in environments that require loud or strained voice use.   Mute or move away from ambient noise for conversation.
  • Avoid habitual or excessive throat clearing and coughing.
  • Quit smoking and avoid environmental airborne irritants.
  • Drink plenty of water and limit caffeine and alcohol.  Generally 6 to 8 cups of water daily with an extra cup of water for each caffeinated or alcoholic beverage is recommended.
  • Be careful to avoid holding your breath during strenuous exercise.  During repetitive exercises, try to exhale on exertion and inhale on relaxation so your airway remains open and relaxed.
  • If you have been prescribed reflux medication, take it as prescribed and avoid foods and drinks that increase the likelihood of reflux.