image from wfuv.org
How many of us have lost our voice after a live concert, sports game, or a medical illness like laryngitis? The answer is likely the majority of us. Therefore, we are familiar with the struggle of trying to communicate with a hoarse voice. Without vocal cord function, one can only whisper. And some people might think that whispering rather than trying to make use of our vocal cords might speed recovery. It might feel like we need to exert less force and strain on our vocal cords. Does this idea stand up to the facts? Research shows that whispering can actually be as hard on your vocal cords as shouting.
Our vocal cords consist of three layers, and we experience hoarseness when the middle, gel-like layer becomes swollen or inflamed. When we whisper, we squeeze our vocal cords more tightly, which might contribute to strain, especially when they are inflamed. This squeezing, combined with the fact that whispering does not vibrate our vocal cords, can also lead to vocal cord irritation from dryness.
The idea is that resting your voice and vocal cords helps speed resolution of the inflammation. One to three days of not talking can help you regain your voice a little more quickly. Some other things that can help your vocal cords are drinking plenty of water and using a humidifier to moisten the air you breathe. Alcohol, caffeine, and smoking all have drying effects and might delay recovery.
We use our vocal cords frequently in our everyday lives, for working and socializing. To speed recovery, limit attempts to communicate vocally, including whispering, and keep your body hydrated and your vocal cords moist!