Voice is the sound produced by the larynx (LAR-inks), commonly called the voice box. The larynx is located in the neck. Air passes from the lungs through the larynx when you exhale. Generally there is no sound made by this simple act of breathing. By closing the vocal folds like a valve, the air passes gently between them, vibrating the folds and producing voice. A normal voice is judged according to whether the pitch, loudness, and quality are adequate for communication and suit a particular person. A person may use a pitch which is too high, too deep, too loud, too soft, or too hoarse, breathy, or nasal. Sometimes a voice may seem inappropriate for an individual, such as a high pitched voice in an adult male. A person who has a voice problem can have many different vocal characteristics, such as:

· Hoarseness

· Harshness / low in pitch and very strained

· Breathiness / whisper-like noise

· Pitch breaks / pitch goes up and down

· Low volume

· Hyponal or “stuffed up”

· Dry cough

· Persistent throat clearing

         Voice is a problem when the pitch, loudness, or quality calls attention to itself rather than to what the speaker is saying. It is also a problem if the speaker experiences pain or discomfort when speaking or singing. There are a variety of causes of voice problems. Persons can become hoarse temporarily by cheering at a baseball game, or an individual can sustain an injury that causes a paralysis of a vocal fold. Misuse of the voice, such as talking too loudly or using a pitch level that is too high or too low, can result in a voice problem. Using an improper breathing pattern can also cause voice problems. Abuse of the vocal folds through excessive smoking or exposure to smoke can be damaging to the voice. Other voice disorders occur without apparent cause and are thought to be neurologic in origin.

         Many problems improve dramatically with the help of a speech-language pathologist. Some problems can profit by a combination of medical or surgical treatment and speech-language pathology service. When faulty use of the voice has caused a condition requiring surgery, the help of a speech-language pathologist will be necessary to avoid a recurrence of the problem.