How often do you speak to people using your voice?
For most people, speaking out loud is an important communication tool.
It’s one of the many ways that we as people connect with each other.
So what happens when someone says that you have a “nasal” voice and it makes it hard for them to understand you?
It might be something called a resonance disorder, which a speech language pathologist near you may be able to help with.
But what is a resonance disorder, and how can you manage it if you have one?
Keep reading to learn more about resonance disorders and to see if you might benefit from professional support.
What Is Speech Resonance?
Speech resonance is the quality of the voice that results from sound vibrations in the throat, mouth, and nose.
The vocal tract, which is comprised of the pharynx, oral cavity, and nasal cavity, filters this sound.
The size and shape of the vocal tract and its components, as well as the position of your tongue, and the degree of mouth opening influence the quality of your voice aloud.
What Does Normal Resonance Sound Like?
When the sound of your voice has a good balance of oral and nasal sounds, that’s considered normal resonance.
Since resonance varies for vowels, oral consonants, and nasal consonants, and there are also variations across different languages and dialects, “normal” resonance takes cultural context into account.
Most vowels and consonants in the English language are predominantly oral.
What Is A Resonance Disorder?
A resonance disorder is a condition that results from a poor balance of oral and nasal sounds in the speech signal.
Sometimes resonance disorders have physical causes, such as the structure of the throat, mouth or nose, but they can also be about the movement of these areas.
It’s also possible for resonance disorders to arise from articulation errors learned in childhood.
Resonance disorders are also caused by blockages that prevent sound transmission into the nasal cavity.
Resonance is a function of sound—not airflow, and should not be confused with nasal airflow “errors” or distortions.
Nasal airflow “errors” are related to articulation when there is an inappropriate escape of air through the nasal cavity during production of pressure consonants.
Examples Of Resonance Disorders
Now you know more about the causes of resonance disorders, here’s an overview of some common ones.
Keep reading to see if you recognize any of these disorders, and if so, learn where to get help.
This resonance disorder stems from a reduction in the quality of voice vibrations from your nose.
If you’ve ever pinched your nose closed while talking, doing so prevents sound passing through the nasal cavity clearly.
A hyponasal resonance disorder can sound similar to this, making nasal consonants more oral in quality (e.g., /b/ for /m/, /d/ for /n/, and /ɡ/ for /ŋ/).
Hyponasality often happens because of a blockage or an obstruction in the nose, which means that not enough sound can pass through.
Enlarged adenoids, swellings, narrow nostrils, or an off-center septum can cause hyponasality.
Lack of auditory feedback in individuals who are deaf or have significant hearing loss may also result in perceived hyponasality due to atypical tongue position during speech.
This resonance disorder occurs when there is too much sound coming from the nose while talking.
It can sometimes result in a high-pitched voice that is difficult to understand.
It can be noticed when there is excessive nasal resonance, typically on vowels, glides, liquids, and, in severe cases, voiced oral consonants (e.g., /b/, /d/, and /ɡ/).
High vowels (/u, i/) are most susceptible to effects of hypernasality and are often the most prominent signs of hypernasality.
Learned misarticulation can cause hypernasality, as can structural abnormalities.
3. Cul-De-Sac Resonance
This resonance disorder occurs when sound is trapped in the throat, resulting in speech that sounds muffled or “tinny.”
Enlarged tonsils are the most common cause of a cul-de-sac resonance disorder.
It may also be caused by a small mouth opening, or a blockage in the anterior part of the nose.
4. Mixed Resonance
A mixed resonance disorder is a combination of hyponasality, hypernasality, and/or cul-de-sac resonance in the same speech signal.
This disorder occurs when there is a combination of an improper closing of the soft palate muscle and a blockage in the nasal airway.
Hypernasality and hyponasality can occur at different times during connected speech, or when the vocal tract is blocked in some way.
How Can A Speech Therapist Help With Resonance Disorders?
If you are struggling with articulation problems and a resulting resonance disorder, a speech therapist can help.
We can provide exercises for you to practice at home, as well as a personalized treatment plan to help you manage your resonance disorder and achieve your speech goals.
We are experienced with a range of different resonance disorders and can help correct persistent articulation errors or help you modify your speech patterns.
Book Your Appointment With District Speech
If you are concerned about your quality of speech or think you might have a resonance disorder, book an appointment with District Speech.
In this first appointment, your speech therapist will ask you to your speech concerns and they will ask questions about your health, any relevant past events that may have contributed to your concerns, and specific goals related to your speech development.
From there, your speech therapist will put together a plan that meets your needs and will support you in your journey.
Book an appointment with District Speech today.
1300 I St NW, #400E,
Washington, DC 20005
District Speech and Language Therapy specializes in speech therapy, physical therapy, and occupational therapy solutions, for both children and adults, in the Washington D.C and the Arlington Virginia areas.