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Why does our voice change when we get affected by cold or cough? I observed the voice change thing in so many people including me.
The important point is that your voice is influenced by airflow, and your vocal cords. When we're sick, and it depends on what it is, a number of factors change the sound of your voice by influencing the two of these, either: By changing airflow due to respiratory tract swelling or fluid buildup, or by damage/swelling/alterations to the vocal cords. In a couple of examples: A weak airflow might produce a higher pitch or weaker voice, or perhaps swollen vocal cords produce that hoarseness associated with decreased frequency of vibration.
Voice Changes for Boys During Puberty
Barbara Poncelet, CRNP, is a certified pediatric nurse practitioner specializing in teen health.
Brian Levine, MD, MS, is board-certified in obstetrics and gynecology as well as in reproductive endocrinology and infertility.
If your son's voice is cracking, he is experiencing the natural effects of male puberty. This time in a young man's life brings changes to his voice as well as his growth. Learn what to expect and why these changes happen.
Hoarseness is an abnormal sound when you try to speak. This may be described as raspy, breathy, soft, tremulous, and/or as changes in the volume of your voice. The pitch of your voice may change as well, becoming either lower or higher.
You may also experience pain or a strained feeling when trying to speak normally. Symptoms may come on suddenly or be so gradual you barely notice. They may be subtle, or instead, obvious.
In addition to asking about the quality of and duration of your hoarse voice, your doctor will want to know about any other symptoms you are experiencing as these can give important clues as to the causes. Some of these include:
It's not a disease, but a catch-all word that means you've lost your voice. If it happens suddenly, it's called "acute" laryngitis. You can get it from a cold or overusing your voice.
You can get long-term laryngitis if you breathe in something irritating, like smoke or chemical fumes. It also develops if you get yeast infections of the vocal cords, which can happen if you use asthma inhalers or have problems with your immune system, the body's defense against germs.
Could Your Voice Show Signs of COVID Infection?
By now it’s old news that speaking increases the possibility of airborne transmission of COVID 19 through aerosolized droplets. But what if the sound of your voice could be used to identify early COVID infection? New research from MIT scientists suggests it might be another clue, like the loss of taste and smell, to asymptomatic carriers or a sign of early infection.
Taking advantage of audio data from celebrities who unknowingly had COVID infections, scientists associated with MIT’s Lincoln Laboratories report that they were able to track changes to voice quality as a result of infection. The big advantage of locating this type of biomarker is that acoustic assessment of voice changes could provide a non-invasive way, like taking a temperature or measuring oxygen levels, to identify someone early in the stages (or asymptomatic with) viral infection.
In a testament to the power of social media transcending its usual purview and our new reliance on virtual research subjects in the days of COVID, the researchers used recordings of five celebrities from sites such as Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube to compare their pre-COVID voice with their speech when they had contracted COVID but were asymptomatic.
Their hypothesis that our voice might be affected by infection is based on the interdependence between respiratory and speech systems. What we use for speaking — the lungs, trachea, larynx (or voice box) and the mouth and nose — are also used for breathing, which is why we sound raspy or ‘stuffed-up’ when we have a cold or flu.
To speak, lung air is pushed out and shaped by our vocal apparatus into specific sounds as it moves toward our mouths in a coordinated process. Though simplifying somewhat, we can measure the acoustic signatures of distinct vowels, consonants, pitch, and other related aspects in the soundwaves of our emitted speech and, in turn, make predictions about the shape and state of the vocal tract that produced it.
The MIT lab’s research is predicated on the concept that acoustic changes will go hand in hand with illness-related changes in the size, shape, or mechanics of your respiratory and articulatory system. With COVID-induced inflammation of the respiratory system and its deleterious effects on motor coordination in the vocal tract, the researchers indeed found that infection altered the acoustics (the soundwaves) of the celebrity’s voice when he or she was infected.
The big what-if, of course, is whether such a finding can be used in an accessible way to track infections in populations like schoolchildren or sports fans coming to watch a big game (or any game). At this point, it is too early to tell whether this work will translate into an effective screening tool, as a number of other influences on voice quality (like hormonal changes, speaking style, emotional states) might be confounding the results.
But if further research validates their findings, the acoustic software needed to acquire measurements is widely available and, the researchers suggest, could potentially be applied via a smartphone app similar to an existing one developed to help identify vocal biomarkers of depression. The COVID-19 based app could compare a baseline speech sample to new samples at regular intervals, offering a quick and simple way to check for early or unknown infection. Given the ubiquity of cellphones and our vast experience talking into them, this new app might just be as popular as the social media outlets that helped inspire it.
T. Quatieri, T. Talkar and J. Palmer, "A Framework for Biomarkers of COVID-19 Based on Coordination of Speech-Production Subsystems," in IEEE Open Journal of Engineering in Medicine and Biology
Abnormal cells growing on your larynx or voice box, the hollow organ that holds your vocal cords -- can press on your vocal cords and keep them from working the way they should. Your larynx is lined with squamous cells, so cancerous cells go on to be squamous cell carcinomas. If you find cancer of the larynx early, it’s easy to treat.
Call for an Appointment(800) USC-CARE (800-872-2273)
More often than not, the root issue is something completely different, he explains.
We make healthy clean sounds by having soft, pliable vocal cords. The primary function of the larynx (also known as the voice box) is to protect the airway. It protects by closing it off. When you swallow, your larynx closes off. Food can then pass into your esophagus without aspiration. When patients have voice changes, there’s a problem with their vocal cords.
What causes your voice to change?
If your voice is changing, it is probably due to abnormalities with your vocal cords and their ability to vibrate in a regular way, Johns says. Sometimes, this is due to a benign or malignant growth on the vocal cords. Changes in your voice may be due to vocal cord nodules, cysts, acute laryngitis, vocal trauma, or muscle tension in the voice box.
If a change in your voice lasts longer than two weeks, Johns recommends that you get evaluated by an otolaryngologist — ideally one who specializes in voice.
Are you experiencing changes in your voice? Our voice experts can help. If you are in the Los Angeles area, request an appointment or call (800) USC-CARE (800-872-2273).
Difficulty Swallowing and Hoarse Voice
Swallowing is something we do without even thinking. But if the throat becomes too dry or we have an illness that affects our ability to swallow, the act of swallowing can take great effort and may even become painful. While most swallowing problems are temporary and short-lived, some may be linked to something more serious such as a brain or nerve disorder. A condition called dysphagia is a swallowing disorder commonly associated with damage to nerves that affect swallowing.
Speech and swallowing problems may be caused by many different factors, events, physical illnesses and diseases. Swallowing can be affected by:
- or colds
- Side effects from certain medications
- Taking bites that are too big and not chewing enough
Issues with voice may be caused by:
- Aspiration (inhaling something)
- Chronic cough
- Chronic hoarseness
- Vocal cord cysts or polyps
The voice and the ability to swallow may also be affected by dental irregularities, such as malocclusion, or even by ill-fitting dentures. In rare instances, a tumor in the mouth, throat or esophagus causes swallowing or voice problems.
Hoarseness in the throat from acid reflux or GERD
GERD is the recurring movement of stomach acid from the stomach back up into the esophagus that can cause heartburn or chest pain. Acid reflux into the larynx occurs when acid travels the length of the esophagus and spills over into the larynx.
The esophagus can withstand a certain amount of acid exposure, but the throat and larynx (voice box) are not meant to withstand any exposure to acid. Any acidic irritation to the larynx may result in a hoarse voice. As the vocal folds begin to swell from acidic irritation, their normal vibration is disrupted. Even small amounts of exposure to acid may be related to significant laryngeal damage. If acid actually refluxes into the lungs, chronic cough and pulmonary conditions can result, such as pneumonia or bronchitis.
Symptoms and diagnosis of voice or swallowing issues
Common symptoms of swallowing issues include having the feeling of a lump in the throat or having a hoarse voice. You might also feel a pain in the throat or chest, and in some cases, may experience drooling.
Symptoms of acid reflux into the larynx may include:
- Laryngitis (loss of voice) or hoarseness
- Sensation of a lump in the throat
- Post-nasal drip
- Chronic throat clearing
- Excessive throat mucous
You may also experience sore throat, cough, laryngospasm (spasm of the throat), and/ or throat pain. Acid reflux can also have an impact on swallowing, speaking and singing.
In order to diagnose your condition, your doctor will perform a physical exam that may also include an upper endoscopy in which a thin, lighted tube is inserted into your mouth and gently moved down into your throat. This allows the doctor to examine the esophagus and also to take tissue and fluid samples.
Additional tests you might need include:
Treatment for swallowing and voice issues generally involves a combination of medication, such as to reduce acid reflux, and lifestyle changes. In some cases, additional therapy such as speech therapy may be needed. Surgery may be recommended if nonsurgical approaches have failed to improve your condition.
Raspy Voice In The Morning? Here's Why Your Voice Changes As The Day Goes On
For many people, a deeper voice in the morning is just one of the many reasons to avoid human contact before you’ve had time to get ready for the day ahead. Other people (mostly men) wish they could maintain their raspy voice all day long. There’s a reason why the voice we go to sleep with is markedly different from the one we wake up with. Actually, there are a couple of reasons for this common and temporary phenomenon. There are also easy ways to remedy a deep voice in the morning if you’re not a fan of sounding like Bill Clinton when you wake up.
“Morning voice,” or the deeper voice we all experience after getting up in the morning, is not to be confused with hoarseness, which tends to be a common symptom caused by a problem with the vocal cords or an inflamed larynx. According to the Cleveland Clinic, hoarseness can be caused by the common cold, upper respiratory tract infection, smoking, allergies, voice abuse, and gastroesophageal reflux or acid reflux — when stomach acid makes its way up the swallowing tube and irritates the vocal cords.
A deeper voice in the morning is an inevitable result of a good night’s rest. During sleep, the tissues in our throat collect fluid, which is also what causes our eyes to look puffy when we just wake up. Our lack of vocal cord use during the night also causes mucus to build up during the hours we spend asleep. People who breathe through their mouth during sleep quickly dry out their vocal cords. This lack of lubrication hinders our vocal cords from moving together, which creates the normal or higher pitch of our voice.
“First and foremost, ‘morning voice’ is caused by fluid collecting in the tissues of our throat and mucus building up overnight,” Susan Berkley, author of Speak To Influence: How To Unlock The Hidden Power Of Your Voice, told Medical Daily. “Mouth breathing is more of a secondary cause. Acid reflux, which refers to stomach acid leaking back up the esophagus, can also result in the raspier voice we tend to wake up with. Eating a big meal before bed or a spicy meal can exasperate this problem. Sleep with your head elevated is one strategy for avoiding a raspy voice in the morning.”
If you are one of the people who would rather not have their voice heard first thing in the morning, you are in luck. It doesn’t take long to alleviate your raspy morning breath. Berkley suggests starting each morning out with two glasses of room temperature water complimented by a squeeze of lemon. This should be done before your morning coffee and tea, which can actually make your throat even drier. Next, while the warm and moist air from your morning shower relaxes your throat muscles, practice humming to “wake up” your voice.
Changes In Your Voice May Mean Trouble, Vocal Health Expert Warns
ANN ARBOR, MI -- Most of us don't think much about our voices from day to day, taking for granted our ability to talk, shout, murmur, laugh and groan. Many people -- teachers, lawyers, clergy and salespeople, as well as actors, singers and radio hosts -- rely on their voices to do their jobs.
But, says a University of Michigan expert, much can go wrong with the human voice. In fact, our voices can say a lot about our health -- if we would only listen.
Changes in a person's voice can indicate anything from a common cold or acid reflux to throat cancer or vocal cord paralysis, says U-M vocal health specialist Norman D. Hogikyan, M.D. But many people don't know they can protect their voices by following a few simple tips, and should seek medical attention for prolonged voice changes.
This week, Hogikyan and his fellow specialists around the world hope to raise the public's awareness of voice-related issues. They've declared Wednesday, April 16, as World Voice Day, through voice societies in South America, Europe and the professional society for ear, nose and throat physicians in the United States: the American Academy of Otolaryngology -- Head and Neck Surgery.
To help people understand how to protect their voices and recognize problems, Hogikyan and his colleagues prepared four fact sheets and an online Voice Quiz for the academy's web site, http://www.entnet.org/news/voiceday.cfm. (A sample of the tips follows below.) The quiz helps visitors identify how voice-related problems are affecting their lives it's based on U-M research on voice-related quality of life.
"Thankfully, most voice changes are temporary and self-limiting, but if they last longer than a few weeks, they can signal serious problems," says Hogikyan, who runs the U-M Vocal Health Center at the U-M Health System's Center for Specialty Care in Livonia, Michigan. "Early attention to voice changes can literally make the difference between life and death for throat cancer patients, and in other cases can help resolve more minor issues before serious ones develop."
If throat cancer is caught early, the likelihood of a cure without extensive treatment is very good, says Hogikyan, an associate professor in the U-M Medical School's Department of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery. But those whose cancer is caught later will usually need more extensive treatment, possibly including removal of the voice box, and the chance of a cure is significantly decreased.
"Even for those without vocal problems, you should take care of your voice and remember that it's your natural instrument," Hogikyan says. He advises drinking plenty of water, avoiding abusive behaviors such as screaming or shouting, and not smoking. Special care of the voice is even more crucial for occupational or professional voice users, who place high demands on their voices.
And those who want to learn more about how the voice works might be interested in a new video, "The Living Voice: A Guided Tour of the Human Larynx in Speech and Song", made by Hogikyan and Freda Herseth, an associate professor of vocal arts in the U-M School of Music. It includes video of the human voice box, or larynx, in action, as captured by a camera-equipped throat scope. It's an engaging and sometimes humorous video for music teachers and other educators of students from grade school through college, as well as those who use their voices professionally or care for people with voice disorders. For more information, e-mail [email protected]
Tips for maintaining a healthy voice:
* Drink water to keep your body well hydrated, and avoid alcohol and caffeine. Your vocal cords vibrate very fast, and having a proper water balance helps keep them lubricated.
* Don't smoke, or if you already do, quit. Smoking raises the risk of throat cancer tremendously, and inhaling smoke (even secondhand smoke!) can irritate the vocal cords.
* Don't abuse or misuse your voice. Avoid yelling or screaming habitually, and try not to talk loudly in noisy areas. If your throat feels dry or tired, or your voice is getting hoarse, stop talking. And don't alter your voice to speak in a higher or lower pitch than normal.
* Don't clear your throat too often. When you clear your throat, it's like slamming your vocal cords together. Doing it too much can injure them and make you hoarse. Try a sip of water or swallow. If you feel like you have to clear your throat a lot, get checked by a doctor for reflux disease, or allergy and sinus conditions. * When you're sick, spare your voice. Don't talk when you're hoarse due to a cold or infection. Listen to what your voice is telling you!
Common causes of voice changes:
* Common cold or upper respiratory infection, laryngitis
* Vocal cord lesions such as nodules or polyps
* Gastroesophageal and laryngopharyngeal reflux disease (caused by acid from the stomach)
If your voice does not return to its normal characteristics and capabilities within three to four weeks, a medical evaluation by an ear, nose, and throat specialist is recommended. This is especially true for smokers or heavy drinkers, who are at high risk for throat cancer.
How to recognize a voice problem:
Voice problems usually are associated with hoarseness (roughness), instability, or problems with voice endurance. If you're not sure if you have an unhealthy voice, ask yourself the following:
* Has your voice become hoarse or raspy?
* Does your throat often feel raw, achy or strained?
* Has it become an effort to talk?
* Do you repeatedly clear your throat?
* Do people regularly ask you if you have a cold when in fact you do not?
* Have you lost your ability to hit some high notes when singing?
If the answer to any of these is "yes", ask your doctor about seeing a voice specialist.