Read below about nasal voice, including causes, treatment options and remedies. Or get a personalized analysis of your nasal voice from our A.I. health assistant. At Buoy, we build tools that help you know what’s wrong right now and how to get the right care.

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Nasal Voice Symptoms

When cold season comes around, we all suffer from the burden of a runny nose, causing it to fail at its most basic functions — to allow us to smell and for the passage of air. But one other often underappreciated function of the nose is that of phonation, or the ability to speak. When you speak, air from your lungs vibrates your vocal cords to create sound waves. These waves then pass through your mouth and your nose, where their character and resonance are changed to create your own unique voice.

Anything that restricts the flow of air through your nasal passages can give your voice a squeaky nasal sound. Colds, allergies, and congestion are the classic causes.

Nasal voice may be associated with these common symptoms:

Nasal Voice Causes Overview

Most of the time, a nasal voice is caused by congestion of the nasal "turbinates," which are outpouchings of tissue in your nose that help warm and clean the air you breathe. When these become inflamed because of allergies, a cold, or a sinus infection, they change the airflow through your nose and the quality of your voice.

Infectious causes:

  • Virus, bacterial, or fungal infection: Your nose is the frontline of exposure to common germs. If any of these infections take hold, you may get a stuffy nose and change in your voice.

Environmental causes:

  • Allergy: The inflammatory reaction due to allergies can cause nasal congestion and nasal voice. Certain medications like aspirin can trigger nasal inflammation in some individuals through a similar mechanism.

Other causes:

  • Masses: Tumors or polyps can block airflow and cause nasal voice and frequent infection.
  • Structural: Any alteration of the internal structure of your nose, such as a deviated septum, might change the sound of your voice.
  • Cultural: Some accents are just more nasal in sound!

3 Potential Nasal Voice Causes

Disclaimer: The article does not replace an evaluation by a physician. Information on this page is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes.

  1. 1.Acute Bacterial Sinusitis

    Acute bacterial sinusitis occurs when the sinuses become infected and, in turn, inflamed, which causes pain and other symptoms. The sinuses are air-filled cavities in the face that are generally clean and empty but when they're sick collect excess mucus and can become infected. When your symptoms are persisting for 10 days or more or are getting worse over time, it's more likely that you'll have a bacterial infection as compared to a viral infection.

    7-15 days

    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, headache, cough, sinusitis symptoms, muscle aches
    Symptoms that always occur with acute bacterial sinusitis:
    sinusitis symptoms
    Symptoms that never occur with acute bacterial sinusitis:
    clear runny nose, being severely ill
    Primary care doctor

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  2. 2.Acute Viral Sinusitis

    Sinusitis is an inflammation of the sinus spaces behind the nose and cheeks. These spaces produce mucus, which drains into the nose. If the nose is swollen or if the mucus does not drain, this can block the sinuses and cause pain or infection.

    Symptoms should subside within 7-10 days

    Top Symptoms:
    headache, cough, sinusitis symptoms, sore throat, congestion
    Symptoms that always occur with acute viral sinusitis:
    sinusitis symptoms
    Symptoms that never occur with acute viral sinusitis:
    being severely ill
  3. 3.Digeorge Syndrome

    DiGeorge syndrome (22q11.2 deletion syndrome), a disorder caused by a defect in chromosome 22, results in the poor development of several body systems. Medical problems commonly associated with DiGeorge syndrome include heart defects, poor immune system function, a cleft palate, complications related to low levels of calcium in the blood and behavioral disorders.

    Genetic disorders of this type are irreversible, but many symptoms can be effectively managed with treatment.

    Top Symptoms:
    hearing loss, trouble swallowing, facial asymmetry, nasal voice, having more than 10 fingers or toes
    Primary care doctor

Nasal Voice Treatments and Relief

Most causes of nasal voice are relatively benign, such as allergies or colds, and can be managed at home. However, if you experience frequent episodes of nasal voice or congestion, chronic nasal voice, a progressively worsening nasal voice, or nasal voice and/or congestion after using certain medications, you should seek advice from a physician.

At-home treatments:

  • Saline spray: Sprays of intranasal saline can diminish inflammation and resultant nasal voice.
  • Steroid spray: Steroid sprays are effective at diminishing nasal inflammation such as from allergies and resultant nasal voice.
  • Decongestants: Decongestants such as pseudoephedrine can be effective short-term at diminishing nasal congestion, but they generally should not be used for more than three consecutive days.
  • Antihistamines: If your nasal voice is connected to allergies, you can try over-the-counter antihistamines.
  • Neti pot: You can rinse out your nose with a solution of distilled water, salt, and baking soda to alleviate the symptoms associated with nasal voice.

Professional treatments:

  • Imaging and Endoscopy: For chronic nasal obstruction or nasal voice, a physician may look inside your nose using X-rays or a special camera (scope). This is done to make sure there are no masses or structural defects causing your nasal voice symptoms.
  • Medication: Physicians may prescribe medications that reduce nasal congestion in an attempt to fix your nasal voice.
  • Surgery: In rare cases, nasal voice may be caused by a mass or a structural defect in the nasal cavity. An otolaryngologist (ENT physician) can perform surgery to remove these masses or fix these defects.

You should seek help without delay if you have:

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Nasal Voice

  • Q.Any fever today or during the last week?
  • Q.Have you been feeling more tired than usual, lethargic or fatigued despite sleeping a normal amount?
  • Q.Do you have a sore throat?
  • Q.Are you experiencing a headache?

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions, try our nasal voice symptom checker to find out more.

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Nasal Voice Symptom Checker Statistics

  • People who have experienced nasal voice have also experienced:

    • 15% Congestion
    • 6% Mucous Dripping in the Back of the Throat
    • 4% Mouth Breathing
  • People who have experienced nasal voice were most often matched with:

    • 6% Acute Bacterial Sinusitis
    • 6% Acute Viral Sinusitis
  • Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from visits to the Buoy AI health assistant (check it out by clicking on “Take Quiz”).

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