What Is A Vocal Care Team?
First things first! A Vocal Care Team is an interdisciplinary team of vocal professionals who work together to help a person achieve optimal vocal health.
A Vocal Care Team consists of:
- a physician who specializes in the voice
- A speech language pathologist, also known as a speech therapist
- A singing or voice acting specialist
Let’s go more more in depth!
Medical Voice Specialists
There are two types of physician that specialize in the voice, an E.N.T and a Laryngologist.
An E.N.T is a doctor who specializes in the ears, nose and throat.
Their speciality is broader than a laryngologist, but they are capable of diagnosing common vocal ailments.
A laryngologist is a doctor of a more specific designation, who focuses solely on the larynx.
These doctors can find information about the voice an E.N.T cannot thanks to their specialized knowledge and equipment.
Though it is more difficult to find an appointment with one, it can be very much worth the effort.
Speech Language Pathology
A speech language pathologist provides therapy that works on improving problems affecting the speaking voice.
It is interesting to note that the majority of vocal problems come from the misuse of the day-to-day speaking voice rather than the singing or acting.
This is why a speech language pathologist is so important.
Singing and Voice Acting Specialists
A singing or voice acting specialist, such as one of our fine teachers, who provide healthy instruction for the performative aspects of the voice.
Experienced and qualified teachers can:
- Reduce strain and vocal fatigue
- Improve proper technique
- Instruct healthier ways to vocalize
Why should I have a Vocal Care Team?
If you are a performing artist or someone who uses their voice in a full and continuous manner for work such as a teacher or public speaker, a vocal team is important in maintaining a healthy and well-oiled voice.
With this being said, a vocal care team can provide care for anyone.
This is important to know, as research is continuing to show a connection between vocal problems and mental and emotional health problems.
What are vocal disorders?
Vocal disorders cover anything psychological or physical that impedes the healthy use of the voice for speech, singing, swallowing or breathing.
As there are many overlapping systems that can be caused by myriad of underlying issues, it is important not to self-diagnose but to see a qualified doctor who can test and diagnose appropriately.
Common Vocal Disorders
Vocal Cord Nodules, Cysts and Polyps
Vocal Cord Nodules, Cysts and Polyps are noncancerous growths on the vocal cords, kind of like calluses.
They can cause the voice to sound:
- raspy and hoarse,
- have spots in a range where no sound can be produced
They are most often caused by continual vocal misuse/overuse over a long period of time. However, they can also be caused by constant coughing, acid reflux or allergies.
In extreme cases surgery may be needed to remove them. However, if diagnosed early, most can heal with proper voice therapy and rehabilitation.
G.E.R.D, short for Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease, is a condition in which stomach acid washes back up to the esophagus. The main symptom of this condition is heartburn, but it can also weaken the voice. The acid that washes back up can irritate the inner workings of the throat, leading to a hoarse voice.
Muscle Tension Dysphonia
This condition is a general term for an imbalance in the muscles and breathing patterns needed to create a healthy voice.
Symptoms range from:
- changes in voice quality
- pain or discomfort while using ones voice.
Muscle Tension Dysphonia can be an after effect of a bad cough or flu, or brought on by stress, anxiety or large life changes.
It is most often treated with speech therapy.
Globus Pharyngeus refers to the reoccurring feeling of a lump or tightness in the throat. This condition does not affect actual swallowing, but is a persistent sensation throughout the day.
This condition can occur due to:
- acid reflux problems
- post nasal drip
- stress and anxiety
Depending on the cause it can be treated with voice therapy, lifestyle changes or a combination of the two.
Aging Voice Problems
As the voice ages numerous things can occur, including
- reduced volume
- reduced vocal stamina
- voice weakness
- shakiness in the voice
- changes in pitch.
While some of these may very well be the circle of life, proper diagnoses can help reduce and deal with these issues in an appropriate way.
Remember, Don’t Self-Diagnose!
There are of course many more vocal disorders. It is important to take care of vocal issues as soon as they appear and stick around for an unnatural amount of time.
Having a vocal team can help prevent many issues from occurring in the first place.
How Do I Find The Right Practitioners For My Voice?
Since it can be overwhelming trying to find the right fit for a speech therapist or laryngologist, feel free to send us an email and we will be happy to direct you to some of Toronto’s finest!
Also, don’t forget that one third of your vocal health team can be found here with us!
We provide singing lessons with highly trained teachers who can help you to get your voice in tip top shape, and keep it that way!
Give us a call at 647 347 7464 to find out more!
Take care of that voice, and happy singing!