[This piece was written by Michele August, MS, CCC-SLP, Supervisor of Speech Pathology for St. Peter’s Hospital Hearing & Speech.]
In constantly speaking to her young students, a teacher had begun to notice her throat was bothering her almost daily. As the discomfort and irritation in her throat grew, she found her voice breaking up more frequently, and an increased desire to clear her throat.
After seeing her doctor, it was determined she had strained her voice so severely that she developed nodules (tiny growths) on her vocal cords. However, thanks to therapy, she learned how to breathe and speak correctly, and the nodules began fading without the need for surgery.
St. Peter’s Hospital Hearing & Speech helps numerous persons recover from damage to their vocal cords caused by speaking too loudly, or at the wrong pitch. Most patients are referred by ear, nose and throat (ENT) physicians, after they rule out cancer or some other diagnosis requiring more invasive treatment.
At St. Peter’s, specialists identify the problem, including the use of a computerized system that shows if patients are speaking at the proper pitch. Pitch involves speaking high or low on a scale, such as the musical do-re-mi.
Patients learn to identify things in their environment that cause vocal stress, such as screaming at a sporting event, whispering frequently, singing improperly, or speaking too loud or too long at work. They learn to breathe properly and speak naturally, using the proper pitch and volume, as well as not speaking abruptly or sharply.
Patients also learn to rest their voices, drink plenty of fluids and avoid caffeine, which dries the throat. Avoiding irritants like cigarette smoke is also key, both the traditional and electronic varieties (vaping).
After several weeks of seeing a therapist twice a week, most patients can usually hear the improvements.
St. Peter’s Hospital Hearing & Speech, 1240 New Scotland Road, Entrance A, Suite 100 in Slingerlands, provides comprehensive and innovative diagnostic and rehabilitation services for individuals with swallowing, voice, cognitive and speech/language disorders. Patients range in age from infants, toddlers and children, to adults and the elderly. Our Speech Language Pathologists are state licensed and certified by the American Speech-Language Hearing Association. For information, call 518-475-1818.