Voice remains the most important part of human communication skills which has made it the most dominant species on earth. The similarity cannot be missed when many of the holy scriptures mention that the beginning was with the ‘word’ or the cosmic sound ‘Aum’ or ‘pranavam’, and the modern science considers the ‘ Big Bang’ as the beginning. Even in this era of machine learning and artificial intelligence, the importance of voice has only increased with more people switching to audio and video based learning and communication than written skills. It won’t be an overstatement if we mention that so many careers are built on voice.
Voice, though it plays such an important role in human life, takes a back seat when it comes to care of human voice. Voice related disorders are many and most go undiagnosed and uncorrected. (Table 1) Symptoms related to voice can arise from voice over use, incorrect use or abuse to neurological disorders and cancers. ( Table 2).
Diagnosis of voice related diseases can be best made if you consult a voice pathologist, an ENT specialist who treats voice related disorders. In case of any symptoms or signs related to cancer of voice box It may make a big difference if you take the opinion of a head and neck cancer specialist. Also voice issues can be due to underlying neurological problems which would require consultation with a neuro physician.
Many of the voice related problems can be treated by a proper clinical and endoscopy
assessment of voice related structures and voice therapy. Learning the correct way of using your voice, adequate voice rest and hydration would be enough to solve voice issues related to improper use. Some of the voice issues can be due to small swellings on vocal cord like cysts and polyps which can be corrected to normal with relatively simple corrections like endoscopic excision.
Early vocal cord cancers and pre malignant conditions of vocal cords can also be treated with endoscopic surgery in a single day. In today’s medical world, many of these do not require separate procedures for diagnosis like biopsy and treatment. The diagnosis and clearance of early vocal cord cancer can be confirmed on many occasions during the same procedure using technology like carbon dioxide laser and frozen section. Some cases of voice box cancer may require treatment using radiation therapy and chemotherapy while advanced cases may need complete surgical removal of voice box. In all cases of suspected cancer it is important that your doctor takes a decision after discussing your case in a multi disciplinary tumour board.
Voice symptoms can be due to underlying neuromuscular disorders which may need treatment with medicines, voice therapy or in some cases injection procedures of vocal cord, endoscopic or open surgeries. These conditions would also benefit from multidisciplinary assessment and treatment planning by your medical team.
The brilliance of Marc Antony’s presentation or the sincerity in Martin Luther King Jr’s dream may not have resonated in our minds if the voice and tone were not matched. Voice is important not just to politicians, singers, priests or professionals like teachers, radio and video artistes but it is an integral part of the day to day survival many lives. In today’s busy lives we often forget the importance of voice till it is too late. World voice is celebrated on May 16th every year to raise global awareness of voice related problems, diagnose and treat them at the earliest. Your voice matters!
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