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Scream Safe Dealing with Hoarseness and Laryngitis
Dr Kumaresh Krishnamoorthy
How is voice produced?

Voice is produced by vibration of the vocal folds. The vocal folds are two bands of smooth muscle tissue that lie opposite each other. They are located in the larynx or voice box. The larynx is positioned between the base of the tongue and the top of the trachea (windpipe), the passageway to the lungs.
When at rest, the vocal folds are open to allow an individual to breathe. To produce voice, the brain precisely coordinates a series of events. First, the folds come together in a firm but relaxed way. Once the folds are closed, air from the lungs passes through them, causing vibration and thus making sound. The sound from this vibration then travels through the throat, nose, and mouth.

What is vocal abuse or hoarseness?
Vocal abuse put plain and simple, is a set of behaviors a person engages in, which adversely affect the quality or sound of one’s voice. This may include excessive talking, throat clearing, coughing, inhaling irritants, smoking, screaming or yelling or be caused by acid reflux. Frequent vocal abuse can damage the vocal folds and cause temporary or permanent changes in vocal function, voice quality, and possible loss of voice. It is now known that dry air, dehydration, loud speech, smoking and air pollution all have adverse effects on the voice.

When should I see an otolaryngologist (ENT doctor)?

  • If hoarseness lasts longer than 2-3 weeks
  • If hoarseness is associated with:
    - Pain not from a cold or flu
    - Coughing up blood
    - Difficulty swallowing
    - A lump in the neck
  • Complete loss or severe change in voice lasting longer than a few days.
  • The information on this site does not constitute medical advice and is not intended to be a substitute for medical care provided by a physician.
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