Do NOT Whisper!

Sore throats and laryngitis are some of the more common reasons for patients to experience raspy quality of the voice or breathy sounds as they try to speak.  Occasionally, postnasal dripping from sinus infections or allergies can also affect the quality of the voice.  Alternatively, secretions from acid reflux can also affect the vocal cords and the resultant voice.
Generally, our voice are generated by our vocal cords.  As the name implies, the vocal cords vibrate just like guitar chords to generate sound.  Depending on the degree of tension and extent of the muscle contractions, different sounds are produced.
Occasionally, due to infections or inflammatory problems, the vocal cords can become inflamed.  When inflamed, the quality of the voice that is generated is often described as scratchy.  The inflammation is sometimes worsened if patients try to generate voice to compensate for the raspiness, and actually strain the voice box even more.
One sincere mistake that many patients make is to resort to whispering.  A common misconception is that whispering might not strain the voice box, and that it could be more beneficial to the healing of the vocal cords.  The converse is actually true.  Whispering actually requires special muscle contractions in order to modulate our voices from its natural state.  Typically, this could be just as bad for our voice boxes as yelling or shouting or other modes of misusing our voice.
A patient with symptoms of laryngitis and hoarseness is usually advised to refrain from excessive use of the voice.  Resting the vocal cords can help the voice recover faster.  Of course, this is a concern for patients who need to communicate, or otherwise depend on their voice for livelihood.  Patients who absolutely need to use their voice given the circumstances are advised to try to generate whatever voice comes out as opposed to intentionally trying to whisper.  Although the quality of voice coming out at that point may not be as pleasant to listen to, this would be the least stressful use of the voice box.
Not all cases of raspy voice are due to laryngitis or swelling.  Other patients might be suffering from vocal nodules or other lesions that may need to be worked up.  Patients suffering from symptoms of hoarseness more than a couple of days are advised to be seen by a specialist for proper examination.

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Posted in: Voice

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