We know that being a Family Doctor can be tough …. you’re expected to know a bit about a lot of things, and your patients constantly look to you for answers. So, when you are faced with someone who complains ‘Doctor, something with my voice is just not right‘ … and there are very few concrete symptoms, what do you do?
It’s easy to assume that the problem is secondary to either an upper respiratory infection, too much shouting at the footy OR that it’s related to stress or anxiety. Most likely you prescribe some antibiotics and voice rest, or perhaps some advice to manage their stress ….all of which seem to be reasonable first responses.
BUT what about when they return 2 or 3 weeks later with no improvement and all they can tell you is ‘it’s just not MY voice’ …’people have trouble hearing me’…’I sound funny’ or …’I have trouble with some words’ ?
The impact of voice problems should not be underestimated. Voice is so connected with emotion and it’s often used as a barometer of mood, for example ‘you sound upset…angry…happy…etc’. Voice influences other peoples impression of our intelligence , our educational level….even our desirability. A strong and smooth voice reflects confidence, while a timid or shaky voice implies nervousness, we get a lump in the throat when we are overwhelmed… and we sing when we are happy. The list goes on, BUT basically our voice is central to how we see ourselves and how others see us.
So when ‘things are just not right’ with our voice, the ramifications can be far reaching.
One of the most talked about issues amongst people living with any chronic voice disorder, is the length of time it took to be taken seriously….and then to get an accurate diagnosis, not to mention the sometimes damaging ‘labels’ they were given along the way. For example:
“I saw 7 doctors over 12 months who diagnosed everything from laryngitis to lung cancer. I insisted on seeing an ENT, and I said I think I have a thing called Spasmodic Dysphonia – after a camera examination he concurred.” ~ RL
“For years, doctors told me that it was all in my head and prescribed me anti depressants – I was eventually diagnosed in a specialist voice clinic. Finally knowing what was wrong changed my life completely.” ~ DA
“My GP is great – I’ve known her for over 30 years. We kind of ‘grew up together’ …you know, had our babies at the same time and shared so much…But when it came to this voice problem she was lost. I knew she thought I was just stressed – she told me to cut back on work and to take a long holiday, but I insisted on a referral to at least see an ENT Dr. He was great, and while he didn’t know exactly what was wrong he sent me to an experienced speech/voice therapist and 2 years after it began, I finally has my diagnosis… it was a such a relief to know I wasn’t going mad”. ~LM
The Australian Dysphonia Network and Dr Kristin Soda are lucky to have found each other. Kristin is a Cairns based GP that knows the frustration of voice loss and the difficulty in getting a firm diagnosis. She lives with Spasmodic Dysphonia, a rare focal dystonia and she is doing her bit to help us highlight voice disorders and their human impact. Kristin shares her story and a brief outline of SD in this video.
In addition to her video, Kristin has presented to medical students and GP’s in the hope of shedding some light on voice disorders. She is happy for us to share her slide presentation here for you Dysphonia for GPs
If we can help in any way, provide you with resources…or connect you with specialists in the field of Laryngology please drop us a line and we will be sure to help where we can. Meanwhile please take some time to explore every nook and cranny of our website, you never know what you might find.
Thanks for stopping by.