Advance with MUSC Health

Vocal Problems

Advance With MUSC Health
October 07, 2020
Lucinda Halstead, M.D.

Our voice reflects who we are. It conveys our personality and allows us to communicate with the world around us. A voice that is rough, squeaky, breathy and difficult to understand isolates a person from those around them, causing frustration and often depression. So, when should you see a doctor about problems with your voice?

It is important to have your larynx examined if you develop vocal issues that persist for more than two weeks, even if you are a nonsmoker. Loss of voice, hoarseness or pain in the vocal cords could be caused by a number of disorders, ranging from common to severe.


Poor vocal habits, reflux, allergies, asthma and many medications can irritate the surface of the vocal folds causing swelling and stiffness. Yelling and physical strain can cause the voice to sound hoarse. Treatment for these issues can range from prescription medication to vocal rest. Left untreated, these irritations can result in non-cancerous lesions such as nodules, polyps or scarring, which require further treatment.

Voice issues can also be due to Cancer. Cancer of the larynx is most commonly caused by tobacco use in any form, cigarettes being the most common. The sooner cancer is detected, the easier it is to treat.


The laryngology program at MUSC was formally established in 1987 with the creation of the MUSC Voice Center by Lucinda Halstead, M.D. The Voice Center was the first in South Carolina to have laryngeal videostroboscopy and to provide comprehensive care of the vocal professional by having a multidisciplinary team of professionals – laryngologist, speech-language pathologist and a singing voice teacher. Today the MUSC Health Evelyn Trammell Institute for Voice and Swallowing (ETIVS) is the first and only Center in South Carolina to provide comprehensive evaluation and management of voice, airway and swallowing concerns for both adults and children.

MUSC Health ENT would be pleased to assist you or your loved ones. Please give us a call at 843-792-3531 to schedule an appointment with our team. We look forward to meeting you and helping you on your path to a healthy quality of life.