Fighting Vocal Fatigue

Everyone experiences vocal fatigue from time to time. Irritation, overuse, and chronic reflux are a few causes of vocal strain. When you experience a hoarse voice, it is time to take action to protect your valuable voice.

What to do when you’ve observed all the precautions?  You’ve had a relaxing day, kept well-hydrated, avoided anything that might irritate your vocal folds and still, you are hoarse.  It is time to try what I like to call the “fake it till you make it technique.”   Glottal fry, that low pitched, rumbly voice that often comes along with vocal fatigue, actually requires less effort than using your optimal pitch.  Less effort, less work, less wear and tear, right?  Wrong. Each person’s vocal cords vibrate in a specific way. The unique structure of each person’s larynx and oral tract along with the precise point of optimal vibration produces a distinctive tone.  Just as each person has their own set of fingerprints, each person also has a one-of-a-kind voice.

When using glottal fry, the vocal mechanism is telling you that it is overworked, overstressed, and barely keeping up with the demands upon it.  Certainly vocal rest is the best practice at this point, but it isn’t always possible. In that case, it is time to make some changes in the way you operate your voice.  Because glottal fry requires very relaxed vibration of the vocal cords, the resulting pitch is lower than usual.  To combat this, experiment with raising your pitch slightly.  Ideally, you should lower it to your optimal or habitual pitch.  When it sounds like you, you’ve got it.  However, if your normal voice is severely hoarse or breathy, you’ll want to keep experimenting until you find a clear tone to use.

red-258608_640If vocal fatigue persists for more than a few days, you should contact your physician. If you are a professional voice user and you lose your voice frequently, consider speech therapy to learn good vocal habits that promote vocal health.

Rose Godfrey

Rose Godfrey

Rose Godfrey is a speech pathologist, writer, world traveler, and mom of 12.She earned her Masters Degree from California State University, Chico. Rose is licensed as a speech pathologist in several states and she holds the Certificate of Clinical Competence from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.
Rose Godfrey

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