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Voice Disorders

Most people in their lifetime will experience voice problems, usually they are just temporary, lasting perhaps a few days and resulting in little more than some inconvenience and maybe some time off work. Some voice problems can be more serious resulting in problems at work, major disabilities and rarely, hoarseness can even be a sign of serious illness.

When should I be concerned?

Most voice problems are temporary and should resolve in a few days. However if your hoarseness lasts more than two weeks or you get hoarseness that comes back again and again, then you should see a qualified Ear Nose and Throat Surgeon (voice expert) and get it checked out.

What Is Voice?

"Voice" is the sound made by vibration of the vocal cords in the voice box (larynx). Air from your lungs is pushed out through the larynx, at the same time as nerves controlling the vocal cords bring them closer together. Once the vocal cords are nearly touching, they start to vibrate and this is what makes our voice. This noise is shaped by the throat and mouth to form speech. So to produce good voice we need good lungs, a healthy larynx and a healthy mouth and throat.

Who gets voice problems and why?

The larynx is a delicate and precise instrument. People who use their voices a lot especially if they rely on their voices for work, often develop voice problems. These "professional voice users" include actors, singers and sports people. But many other professionals including teachers, salespeople, business executives, doctors, lawyers and receptionists rely on their voice to perform effectively in their everyday business.

Voice problems can also be caused by:

  • Inflammation of the voice box caused by acid reflux
  • Infections of the larynx
  • Nodules and polyps
  • Previous surgery
  • Tumours of the vocal cords
  • Paralysis of the nerves moving the voice box (vocal cord palsy)


Diagnosing Voice Problems

Dr John McGuinness believes that two heads are better than one when it comes to diagnosing and treating voice problems. That’s why we offer joint consultation with a qualified speech and language therapist for all our patients with voice problems.

Examining the voice box is quicker and easier than you might imagine. Dr McGuinness will pass a fine flexible camera (called a nasoendoscope) through your nostril to record High Definition images of your larynx whilst you talk. This allows us to quickly and painlessly pinpoint the cause of your voice problems. We can even email the images to your treating doctor. We are one of the few clinics in New South Wales offering videostroboscopy of the larynx, a specialised technique for recording the vibrations of the vocal cords which are usually too quick to be seen by the human eye.

How are Voice Problems Treated?

Many voice problems can be cured without surgery. Problems such as nodules and occupational voice issues can respond really well to a course of speech therapy. This can be organised with our own expert speech therapist.

Dr McGuinness has pioneered the "in office" treatment of vocal cord problems. These pain free treatments can be used to treat many voice problems that would normally require a general anaesthetic. These include:

  • Injection medialisation of paralysed vocal cords
  • Electrical examination of the laryngeal nerves
  • Biopsy of vocal cord lesions
  • Botulinum toxin injections for spasmodic dysphonia

For all other problems requiring surgery Dr McGuinness uses the latest, most modern microsurgical techniques to provide the best outcomes for your voice problems. He is a recognised expert in the use of lasers to treat and remove laryngeal lesions with minimal scarring. Most of these procedures can be performed under sedation or as a day case, meaning you can return to normal activities as speedily as possible.

Why Choose Dr John McGuinness if I have a Voice Disorder?

Dr McGuinness has established a groundbreaking multidisciplinary Voice and Airway Team. We are now lucky enough to be able to offer the same expert service in a private practice setting. We know how important communication is in all aspects of our lives. We believe that expert multidisciplinary diagnosis and treatment using the most up to date techniques available in Australia, guarantee the best outcomes for your voice problem. Your voice is an important asset, don’t lose it!


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