Are you wondering if whispering will do damage to your speaking or singing voice over time? Are you hoarse and trying to preserve the little bit of voice you have left?
Tons of singers assume that whispering will put less stress on their vocal cords, but that is not at all correct!
While it may not seem like such a big deal, whispering can cause your vocal cords to become dry or irritated if done for long periods of time.
Sure, a whisper here and there won't hurt you, but trying to carry on whispering all day to preserve your voice for a speech or singing performance may not be a good idea.
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When we speak or sing at normal levels, our vocal cords vibrate, which keeps the muscles in our voice box healthy and resonating. But when we whisper, the vocal cords do not vibrate, and this can cause dryness, leading to irritation.
In an article penned by Dr. Isaac Namdar, M.D., he states that "Whispering actually requires special muscle contractions in order to modulate our voices from their natural state. Typically, this could be just as bad as yelling or shouting."
Secondly, those who whisper have been shown to squeeze their vocal cords in a traumatic way, according to Dr. Adam D. Rubin from the Michigan-based Lakeshore Professional Voice Center.
But it is important to note Dr. Rubin stated in his study of 100 patients and their vocal cords that:
"Although whispering involves more severe hyperfunction in most patients, it does not seem to do so in all patients. In some patients, it may be less traumatic than normal voice."
The third problem with whispering is that a lot of people don't know how to do it the correct way.
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I, along with many others, am guilty of whispering too loudly to try to get a message across, which does more harm than a very soft whisper that another person may not be able to hear.
According to Lesley Childs, M.D., who specializes in Otolaryngology, "When most people whisper, they want to be heard, so they strain to produce sound. It can be as bad for your voice as shouting."
There is a method called an open throat whisper that allows people to whisper very softly without their voice box drying out from the straining that most whisperers put themselves through.
Now that you know the dangers of whispering in general, I'm sure you're assuming that whispering while sick or hoarse is not a good idea at all, either. Turns out, whispering can delay your inflammation problems if you are sick.
It's especially a bad idea if you are suffering from laryngitis. Keck Medicine of USC warns that "Continuing to irritate damaged vocal folds can create hard bumps or nodules that can harden and may need surgery if they go untreated."
These bumps are known as vocal nodules, which many famous singers have been known to suffer from after straining their voice for long periods of time during horses, sickness, and generally overworking their vocal cords after they are already inflamed.
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The best option for saving your voice from the dangers of whispering is to simply go on voice rest.
If you can, try using other forms of communication like hand signals, texting, and writing to get your point across for one to three days, especially if you are sick.
You could also take a stab at the extremely quiet type of whispering that most people won't be able to hear
But if you can get close enough to someone's ears, it probably won't hurt much since you won't be adding that strain to your voice that most people do when they whisper.
If you must speak, try to limit your talking and just do it in a normal voice since the experts say that whispering can often be as bad as shouting or doing something else crazy with your vocal cords.
"Crazy" things could include smoking while hoarse or sick or drinking alcohol, which can cause further dryness.
To keep your voice in tip-top shape, make sure you are getting around eight glasses of water a day into your body. This practice alone can save you from hoarseness and even full-blown sickness, whether you're a singer, performer, or not.
You also want to make sure you are warming up your voice before using it if you are a singer. Singing without proper warmups can also damage your voice box over time.
You could also consider looking into voice therapy techniques that are used for often have problems with their vocal production.
Techniques can include The Accent Method, The Confidential Voice method, and Digital Laryngeal Manipulation. To learn more about methods like these, check out this article from Beverly Hills Speech Therapy.
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