Everyone uses their voices on a daily basis. That is why it is important to keep your vocal cords healthy. If you don’t by abusing or misusing your voice you could develop a vocal disorder. Continue reading to learn more about vocal abuse and vocal misuse.
What is Your Voice?
The sound that your voice makes comes from the vibrations of your vocal folds. These are bands of smooth muscle that are positioned on opposite sides of the larynx. When you are not using your voice, these bands are open to allow you to breathe.
As you begin to talk and use your voice, these vocal folds snap together while air blow past, causing them to vibrate. The shape and size of everyone’s vocal cords are different and that is why everyone has a unique voice.
What is Vocal Abuse?
Vocal abuse is when you are using your voice normally, but you are also using it excessively. This can include excessive talking, clearing of the throat, coughing, smoking or yelling. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), around 12% (17.9 Million) adults in the United States have reported problems with their voice. These problems can come from vocal abuse. Some examples of vocal abuse are:
- Exessive Talking: Talking to often can lead to your vocal folds becoming stressed and worn out
- Throat Clearing: This can cause excess wear and tear on your vocal cords
- Smoking: Smoking can cause serious damage to your vocal cords along with your lungs which can further vocal issues
- Exessive Yelling: Constantly yelling can cause damage to your vocal cords by not giving them a break
What is Vocal Misuse?
The difference between vocal abuse and vocal misuse is simple. Vocal misuse is any abnormal behavior that causes stress and injury to the vocal folds. Some examples of vocal misuse are speaking or singing too loud or at a pitch that is too low or too high.
What Can Happen?
There are many different things that can happen if you are constantly abusing, or misusing your vocal cords. Harvard Medical School gives the following disorders:
- Vocal Cord Nodules: These are small, hard growths on each of the vocal cords. They are caused by vocal abuse and are common in singers and teachers.
- Vocal Cord Polyps: These are small, soft growths that are commonly found on one of the vocal cords. They are common in smokers or people who are exposed to chemical fumes.
- Laryngitis: Laryngitis is when the vocal cords swell up and are usually caused by infection or inflammation.
Preventing and Fixing Vocal Disorders
To prevent vocal disorders, there are a few things that you can do. To start, you can eat smaller meals to help avoid overfilling the stomach. Other things you can do is to avoid any foods that might give you heartburn such as alcohol, caffeine, fatty foods, and chocolate. Another thing you can do to help is to use a vocal spray. Vocal sprays such as Clear Voice Vocal Spray can help your vocal cords feel better.
One of the best things you can do to fix these disorders is to rest your voice. That way you give it time to resolve on its own. If you are still experiencing some of the signs of one of these disorders, you should talk to your doctor as they might need to be surgically removed.