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Voice Issues Specialist

Matthew W. Shawl, MD -  - Facial Plastic Surgeon

Matthew W. Shawl, MD

Facial Plastic Surgeon & Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist located in Union Square, New York, NY

As a singer, actor, teacher, or anyone with a high vocal demand, being able to project your voice is an important aspect of your livelihood. However, acid reflux, allergies, and post-nasal drip can cause voice issues that prevent you from giving your best performance. At his Union Square office in Manhattan, experienced otolaryngologist, Matthew W. Shawl, MD, regularly assists men and women experiencing voice issues. Call or use the online booking tool to request an appointment at the New York City office today.

Voice Issues Q & A

What causes voice issues to develop?

At the back of your throat, near the base of your tongue, is your voice box or larynx. Your larynx consists of cartilage, muscles, and mucous membranes; when air moves through your larynx, your vocal cords vibrate, creating sound. 

When your larynx is healthy, you can sing, speak, and yell without any problems. However, if your vocal cords become inflamed, paralyzed, or develop growths, one or more voice issues may arise.

What are some of the most common voice issues?

Dr. Shawl treats an array of voice issues, including:


Laryngitis is the medical term for the inflammation of your larynx. The two most common causes of laryngitis are viral infections, similar to those that cause the flu, and vocal strain from yelling or singing loudly.

Spasmodic dysphonia

Spasmodic dysphonia is a neurological disorder that causes your vocal cords to experience involuntary spasms. These spasms cause your voice to break, crack, or have a strained quality.

Cancerous and non-cancerous lesions

Both cancerous and benign polyps, cysts, and nodules can develop on your vocal cords. As these growths increase in size, they can cause inflammation, paralysis, and difficulty projecting.

Vocal cord paralysis

Vocal cord paralysis occurs as a result of damage to nerves in your larynx. Some of the most common causes of vocal paralysis include strokes, neck and chest injuries, or accidents during vocal cord surgery.

Are there any factors that increase my risk of voice issues?

Anyone can develop a voice issue, but there are certain factors that can increase your risk, including:

  • Smoking
  • Allergies
  • Aging
  • Yelling
  • Dehydration

Other factors linked to voice issues include improperly clearing your throat, high-stress levels, and scarring from surgery or trauma.

How are voice issues diagnosed?

In most cases, Dr. Shawl diagnoses voice issues following a thorough physical exam, review of your medical history, and discussion of your symptoms. During your appointment, Dr. Shawl listens to your voice and performs a series of vocal tests.

If these measures don’t provide adequate information, Dr. Shawl may recommend a diagnostic imaging procedure like a laryngoscopy, an electrical test like laryngeal electromyography, or blood testing. 

How are voice issues treated?

The treatment for your voice issue depends on the underlying cause, but whenever possible, Dr. Shawl recommends conservative methods of care. For example, if you’re suffering from vocal cord inflammation, Dr. Shawl may prescribe a vocal cord reset or a period of rest and relaxation.

If allergies or acid reflux disease cause your voice issues, Dr. Shawl can recommend lifestyle changes like a less-acidic diet or prescription medications. 

More serious voice issues like vocal cord paralysis may benefit from voice therapy. Dr. Shawl can refer you to a specialist who can help strengthen your vocal cords and improve breathing during speech. If necessary, Dr. Shawl can also prescribe prescription steroids, but only as a last resort.

Don’t let issues like hoarseness and post-nasal drip threaten your career. Call or use the online booking tool to request an appointment with Matthew W. Shawl, MD, to find a solution for your voice issue today.