When a person's vocal quality, pitch, or loudness differs from typical speakers of similar age, gender, cultural background, and geographic location it may indicate a vocal disorder. The possible cause (etiologies) of voice disorders is large and these differences in quality, pitch, and loudness may result from a variety of factors. Structural, medical, or neurological alterations of the respiratory, laryngeal, and vocal tract mechanisms may create a voice disorder. Some pathologies may develop following maladaptive or inappropriate voice use over a period of time. Yet another type of voice disorders occurs in direct response to psychogenic factors.
There is no single best approach to organizing and classifying the broad and ever-increasing range of laryngeal pathologies and voice disorders. Recognizing that many potential facets influence voice disorders, five separate classifications are presented below. Click on a classification for additional information.