February 07, 2011

Is Whispering Bad for Your Vocal Cords???

For most people, the answer is yes according to research publicized in a New York Times article on Feb 7, 2011.

In the mentioned study, out of a group of 100 patients, 69% exhibited increased supraglottic hyperfunction with whispered voice (ie, it was bad for the voice). 18% had no change and 13% had less severe hyperfunction.

As such, though whispering is not bad for everybody, it is for most people and as such, the safest thing to do if the vocal cords are damaged whether by infection or trauma is to rest your voice. If you have to talk, do not whisper, but rather talk in a soft voice.

The best way to think about injured vocal cords is to talk in an analogy. Laryngitis is like a badly sprained ankle. In this scenario, talking is like walking and screaming is like running. So just like you would rest the sprained ankle and not walk on it in order for it to recover as quickly as possible, you should refrain from talking in order for the laryngitis to recover as quickly as possible. Where does whispering fall in this analogy? Probably equivalent to running on a sprained ankle.

Read the NYT article here.

Read more about voice problems here.

Laryngeal hyperfunction during whispering: reality or myth? J Voice. 2006 Mar;20(1):121-7.

Fauquier blog
Fauquier ENT

Dr. Christopher Chang is a private practice otolaryngology, head & neck surgeon specializing in the treatment of problems related to the ear, nose, and throat. Located in Warrenton, VA about 45 minutes west of Washington DC, he also provides inhalant allergy testing/treatment, hearing tests, and dispenses hearing aids.

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