What causes dysphonia

Functional dysphonia

Functional dysphonia is the most common type of voice disorder. No organic change can be seen here. Instead, the vocal organs (breathing apparatus, larynx, neck tube) have a limited function. Posture, body tension, breathing, voice and articulation are in an uneconomical interplay.

There is no organic change in functional voice disorders, but the vibration and closing behavior of the vocal folds is disturbed. Often this type of disorder occurs with professional speakers. This is often caused by incorrect or unfavorable use of the voice during overload (speaking too much and too loudly), environmental pollution (i.e. speaking in too dry rooms), psychological stress as well as stress, overload and conflicts. If the functional voice disorders are not treated, secondary organic voice disorders, for example changes at the level of the vocal folds, can occur.

The result is a change in the sound of the voice (e.g. hoarseness) and in the vocal performance (rapid voice fatigue, limited voice capacity etc.).

In speaking-intensive professions (teachers, trainers, moderators, employees in call centers, etc.), functional dysphonia is caused by excessive vocal exertion or overload (also called ponogenic dysphonia or occupational dysphonia).

If functional dysphonia is not treated, secondary organic voice disorders (e.g. nodules) can develop.

Functional dysphonia can be distinguished as follows:

  • Hyperfunctional dysphonia:

This is characterized by an increased effort of the phonation (voice) and respiratory muscles. The voice is usually loud and sounds hoarse, rough, strained. As a result, it quickly tires when exerted. It can be too low, but it can also be too high. As a rule, there is an increased body tension with a tendency to high breathing and an increased breathing rate. Patients often tend to have increased body tension, especially in the shoulder, neck and jaw area.

  • Hypofunctional dysphonia:

This is characterized by a reduced expenditure of force. The voice is usually very soft and powerless and sounds hoarse, breathy, monotonous. It is not very resilient. As a rule, there is a reduced body tension with a tendency to high breathing and an increased breathing rate.

There are also mixed forms of hyper- and hypofunctional voice disorders with primary and secondary components of one form.