New Telegraph

Hush…hush…hush…not Hushpuppi!

muscle tension dysphonia

The scene

Nora ‘’started singing from her mother’s womb’’. It’s been a lifelong passion. She does her thing at events, clubs… Then the opportunity came to audi- tion for a reality Singing show. Hundreds of thousands were in attendance, equally brilliant singers. She literally sang her voice out to impress the judges, at every stage of the competition she triumphed until she qualified for the final 10. She was the 1st to mount the podium, she opened her lips to let out her Nightingale voice, but behold, neither the judges nor the audience could make out nothing! Her voice broke out in whispers…hush… hush…hush.

What is Hoarseness of Voice? (aka Dysphonia) It is an abnormal change in voice. The voice may have changes in pitch and volume, ranging from a deep, harsh voice to a weak, raspy or hush voice. It may occur gradually or suddenly. The latter applied to Nora the Songstress.

How is Voice generated? The sound of voice is produced by vibration of the vocal folds, which are two bands of smooth muscle tissue that are positioned opposite each other in the larynx. The larynx is located between the base of the tongue and the top of the trachea, which is the passageway to the lungs (see figure). When we’re not speaking, the vocal folds are open so that we can breathe. When it’s time to speak, however, the brain orches- trates a series of events. The vocal folds snap together while air from the lungs blows past, making them vibrate. The vibrations produce sound waves that travel through the throat, nose, and mouth, which act as resonating cavities to modulate the sound. The quality of our voice—its pitch, volume, and tone—is determined by the size and shape of the vocal folds and the resonating cavities. This is why people’s voices sound so different.

Causes of Voice Hoarseness

Common causes include:

  • Viral infection in Upper Respiratory Tract-A Cold. (most common cause)
  • Stomach acid reflux ( a condition that makes stomach acid wash back up into the esophagus; a tube that leads into the throat. The main symptom is heartburn, but
    it can also weaken the voice.
  • Tobacco smoking
  • Drinking caffeinated and alcoholic beverages
  • Screaming, prolonged singing, or otherwise overusing your vocal cords
  • Allergies
  • Inhaling toxic substances
  • Coughing excessively

Less common causes of hoarseness include:

  • Polyps (abnormal growths) on the vocal cords
  • Throat, thyroid, or lung cancer
  • Damage to the throat, such as from the insertion of a breathing tube
  • Male adolescence (when the voice deepens)
  • Poorly functioning thyroid gland
  • Thoracic aortic aneurysms (swelling of a portion of the aorta, the largest artery off the heart)
  • Nerve or muscle conditions that weaken the voice box function

Indicators of serious underlying conditions

  • Hoarseness persisting for more than three weeks, especially if you are a smoker
  • No other symptoms of a cold/flu
  • Coughing up blood
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • A lump in your neck or throat
  • Changes in your voice which last for more than a few days
  • Pain when speaking and swallowing
  • Difficulty breathing along with your voice change(s)
  • A singer who cannot perform

Are as determined by your doctor; much more likely, the Ear, Nose and Throat specialist.


It could be Medical or Surgical


Identifying and avoiding triggers can help prevent a hoarse voice. For some people, this could be how they use their voice. To help prevent a hoarse voice, you should:

  • drink plenty of water
  • wash hands often to reduce chances of contracting a cold or flu
  • rest the voice when ill (use sms instead of voice calls)
  •  exercise regularly
  • practice breathing techniques when talking or singing

Things to avoid While your voice is healing, try to stay away from the following:

  • Singing and shouting. Don’t add any unnecessary stress to your vocal cords. This will just lead to more inflammation and a longer healing time.
  • Whispering. It sounds odd, but whispering actually puts more stress on
    your vocal cords than speaking normally.
  • Alcohol. Staying hydrated will help you heal. Avoid alcohol, which has a dehydrating effect.
  • Decongestants. Over-the-counter cold medicines that contain decongestants can dry out your throat, causing further irritation.
  • Smoking. Any type of smoking, including e-cigarettes, can irritate the throat cause coughing, and prolong healing time
  • Consumption of spicy foods; especially if you experience acid reflux
  • Usage of alcohol-containing mouth wash

Take Home

As with most conditions, it’s better to work more on preventive strategies (where applicable) than treatment.

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