What is a resonance disorder?


What is a resonance disorder?

A resonance disorder is a distortion of vocal quality that can result from abnormalities in the structures of the throat, soft palate, nose, and mouth. A resonance disorder can also result from the way someone uses these structures. Disturbances to the aforementioned structures and/or functions of these structures could result in enough distortion of sounds so as to make speech difficult to understand.

The sound that is generated in the larynx (voice box) and the way it vibrates in the back of the throat, nose, and mouth determines the quality of voice in terms of its resonance. Our perception of normal voice requires an acceptable balance of oral and nasal resonance.

All of us have temporarily experienced changes in our resonance when we have a cold, sinus infection, or throat inflammation. However, more permanent conditions require closer attention by an otolaryngologist and a speech-language pathologist.


Structural or functional abnormalities in the throat, nose, soft palate or hard palate require a thorough evaluation in order to determine the appropriate course of action.

An otolaryngologist, in collaboration with a speech-language pathologist, will examine the structures of resonance. The otolaryngologist will perform an instrumental examination using imaging technology. A speech-language pathologist will then evaluate articulation, vocal quality, and language by administrating tests that assess each area separately. Additionally, patient/parent interview is synthesized with all test results to determine the most appropriate intervention options.


In the case those structural problems are the cause of resonance issues, surgical options may be the first treatment of choice. Often after surgical correction of a structural problem, speech therapy is recommended to maximize the benefit of surgery. In the case of normal structures and functions, (i.e., when resonance issues are the result of misuse of structures during speech), speech therapy is the first treatment option. Speech therapy for resonance disorders can include training appropriate articulation of distorted sounds; and training healthy, efficient use of the voice.