Monday, May 14, 2012

Trouble Speaking

In March of 2011, I had an upper respiratory infection and I noticed a couple of weeks later that my voice would give out at the end of my shift at work. I work in customer service and talked on the phones for 8+ hours per day. It was like I had laryngitis. As days went on, I began to lose my voice earlier in my shift. I went to my doctor and she took me off the phones for 2 weeks. It didn't make a difference. It then progressed to where I could only do about 1 hour on the phones per day. I had gone to one ENT and he said everything looked fine and that he could do surgery but that would probably make it worse. I didn't seem too confident with his answer. I went to another ENT and he said he couldn't find anything wrong but he sent me to a speech therapist. I went through many sessions with zero improvement. I went back to the ENT and he referred me to a speech pathologist. Again, I went through many sessions with no improvement. The speech pathologist referred me to another specialist to do Myofascial Release. It seemed like a gimmick but I went through this for several weeks and notice no improvement. My AP and ENT thought it might be due to acid reflux, so I was taking a couple of Nexium's per day and cutting out caffeine but that didn't work either. My job has allowed me to return to work to perform other duties but it will soon end and I still cannot hardly speak. This has ruined my life as I am about to lose my job and can find any other employment that does not require the use of my voice. Is there anything else that can be done or am I stuck with this for the rest of my life?

Melissa Kim, M.S., CCC-SLP replies... 
If several examinations by an otolaryngologist have not resulted in an explanation for your ongoing difficulties, I would suggest that you consult a laryngologist (an Ear, Nose, and Throat physician fellowship trained specially in the treatment of voice disorders). From your description, I would certainly suspect that you have at least some component of what is referred to as muscle tension dysphonia, or excessive strain of laryngeal muscles that may result in poor vocal quality and performance. The treatment for this condition is voice therapy with a speech pathologist who specializes in the treatment of voice disorders; if you have been seeing speech pathologists who are more generalists in the field, you may want to seek out a more appropriate specialist.

Best of luck to you.

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