Monday, August 26, 2013

Low Raspy Voice

I just have a question regarding a very low, raspy voice.. I've always had it, but it is hard for me to speak up (I feel like I'm screaming if I do) and talking for lengths of time or in a crowded place it gets sore.

I was born at 25 weeks and was on breathing tubes and hooked up to a nebulizer while in NICU and 3 months or so after I came home. My father recently told me due to the breathing tubes I have scar tissue.

I'm now 25 (female), have never smoked or drank or done drugs. Ive had regular checkups and nothing out of ordinary comes up.

I was just curious as to whether scar tissue could cause such a raspy voice? I love my voice but I'd like to be able to project my voice and not feel so sore after talking for long periods. Do you have any suggestions or resources?

Melissa Kim M.S., CCC-SLP replies...

Yes, vocal fold scarring as the result of prolonged intubation (placement of a breathing tube) can result in altered vocal quality. The only way to determine if this is the cause of your "raspy" voice, and to learn of possible treatment strategies, is to be evaluated by an Ear, Nose, and Throat physician.

Good luck!

Injured Vocal Cords

My friend is visually impaired and had an infection in her vocal cords that has impaired her ability to speak in a normal range voice. She is talking in a very high register, sounds like it is complete from her head but I can see the strain on her throat / neck area when she attempts to speak. I am trying to find her a braille device so that she can type in and it will speak for her since she needs to rest her voice but now I'm not certain that 'resting ' her voice will suffice. Any suggestions?

Melissa Kim M.S., CCC-SLP replies... 

In order for me to give specific advice as to appropriate treatment, I would need a formal diagnosis. I assume your friend has been evaluated by an Ear, Nose, and Throat physician? If so, please let me know what the diagnosis is and I'd be happy to assist! 

Thank you for your question.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Vocal Nodules

I'm 18 years old, and I am a singer. I've been singing four years. I practice everyday but I notice that sometimes I felt like I had something stuck in my throat, but I don't know what to do because I have an audition and I need to practice.  Is this the beginning of vocal nodules?

Melissa Kim M.S., CCC-SLP replies...

There are many possible explanations for your symptom of feeling that something is stuck in your throat, although this is not a typical presenting symptom for individuals with vocal fold nodules. See an Ear, Nose, and Throat physician for an evaluation and treatment recommendations.

Good luck!


Thursday, August 15, 2013

Throat Pain When Singing

My 13 year-old daughter has been singing since she was 9. Earlier this year she was working on the song Fly Fly Away and she began belting part of the song. After 2 months of practice, she told me she could only sing the song once and then her throat hurt. I had her quit singing it and she rested her voice for several weeks. Her vocal coach was made aware of this. Now she can only sing a little while and then her throat hurts by her larynx. But she is not horse. She was scoped by and ENT and he said everything looked normal. He suggested we see a vocal coach to see what she is doing wrong but she has had the same vocal coach for the last 4 years. She was just singing for fun with her friend and after 19 minutes, her throat started hurting. Any ideas?

Melissa Kim M.S., CCC-SLP replies...   

If her larynx was normal on examination, it certainly is possible that your daughter has developed some maladaptive functional vocal behaviors when singing that are contributing to her discomfort. While instruction with a singing teacher may be helpful in terms of technique, rehabilitation of the voice is best addressed by a speech pathologist who specializes in the treatment of singing voice disorders.

Thank you for your question!


Protecting Voice

How can I protect my voice in order to avoid problems in the future? Do you have any tips? Because I lose my voice at least twice a school year (due to sore throats, bronchitis, etc.) a singer I know told me to 'watch out' or I'd end up having to have surgery some day. 

Melissa Kim M.S., CCC-SLP replies...   

Kudos to you for being proactive in regards to your vocal health! For a comprehensive list of vocal hygiene recommendations, please see our webpage at In addition, when you experience voice change or loss during periods of illness, be as conservative with your voice as possible to avoid development of vocal cord pathologies.

Best of luck to you!


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

No Change of Voice

Hi, I am a 24 year old male and my voice hasn't broke yet.  It sounds like a guy when someone hears me personally but when I record it or talk over the phone many think that I am a female.  Even if someone is hearing me behind the door they think that a female is talking.  I have had normal signs of puberty like pubic hair, beard, moustache and all signs except voice.  I want to know can my voice get deeper now I mean can I change my voice now.  Please help.

Melissa Kim M.S., CCC-SLP replies...  
I would recommend an evaluation by an Ear, Nose, and Throat physician to rule out the possibility that something structural/ functional is contributing to your symptoms. In the absence of anatomic or physiologic abnormality, persistence of abnormally high pitch in young men or women after the onset of puberty is referred to a "puberphonia," and can be treated in voice therapy with a speech pathologist who specializes in the treatment of voice disorders.

Best of luck to you!

Throat Noise

Aspiring voice artist. I've realized that my throat makes a number of clicking sounds that I cannot control, mostly at the ends of spoken phrases, sometimes within words. I've tried green apples, lozenges, various liquids for drinking and gargling at various temperatures, exercises, avoiding alcohol/caffeine/tobacco...even saw an ENT doctor who wasn't sure what to recommend. Ever experienced anything like this? Any thoughts would be appreciated, as this may well doom my potential to build a career in this.

Melissa Kim M.S., CCC-SLP replies...

It is difficult for me to comment on causes or potential interventions for the symptom you describe because I have not observed or evaluated the "clicking" sound. If your physician was unable to provide you with a diagnosis, however, I would suggest that you seek out a second opinion.

Good luck!


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Hoarse Voice after Anabolics

I am a 33 years old female. When I was 18 years old I started to use anabolic steroids to increased my body mass. I was very slim when I was a teenager and I was bullied all the time by my friends. Now I have a very hoarse voice that does not let me talk with clarity. Sometimes people make fun of me because this horrible voice. I went with a otolaryngologist to evaluate me but they said that nothing can be done. I am still looking for help before you reply this email saying "I am sorry I can not do anything for you". Please think if a surgery can help me. Doctors said that nothing abnormal is in my throat that all the structures looks normal. But this is something that really affects me. I always make an effort to speak louder than a normal person due to people can not hear me or understand me. I also feel a pressure/stress on my throat, it may be because my voice is so deep. I live in Texas. Please I will do anything that can help me to have a fine voice - any change in my voice will help. I know that I can not recover my own voice but at least a slight change. Thank you. 

Barbara P. Messing, M.A., CCC-SLP, BRS-S replies...

Thank you for posting your question to our Ask an Expert online. It is important that you have already seen an otolaryngologist and your examination revealed normal findings from an anatomy and physiology standpoint. I understand that you continue to experience significant vocal problems. I recommend that you seek a voice evaluation and voice therapy by a speech pathologist trained in voice. If you go to our national referral database you may be able to find a voice center with a speech pathologist specially trained to treat voice disorders. There are several in Texas. You could also ask your otolaryngologist to recommend someone near your home.

Please let me know if I can assist you further.

Kind regards
Barbara Messing


I've had a croaky voice since I can remember from being a little girl, and the croakiness only goes away if I yell. Is there any surgery or anything, that would allow me to talk normally with no croaks? Thanks.

Melissa Kim M.S., CCC-SLP replies... 

I cannot comment as to whether surgery, or any other type of intervention, would be helpful without knowing the cause of your vocal symptoms. See an Ear, Nose, and Throat physician for an evaluation and recommendations as to appropriate treatment strategies.

Good luck!