Blog March 2015

Facts about your voice you probably didn't know

Posted On: March 25, 2015

Prior to the Renaissance period, the voice was thought to be ‘sent forth by the heart’. Vocal cords are now referred to as ‘vocal folds’ which reflect the different layers of muscle, ligament and membranes that make up their structure. The normal anatomy of the human voice includes both ‘false’ vocal folds and ‘true’ vocal folds.  Many of the muscles used for swallowing are also used for talking; it's impossible to talk and swallow at the same time. When you swallow the epiglottis, at the back of the mouth, closes (like a valve) preventing aspiration of the food into the lungs. That effectively closes the layrnx; which prevents speech.

When you speak air travels in/out of your mouth and throat, causing normally moist and lubricated surfaces to become dry.  We drink to hydrate our body but liquids do not, directly, coat and lubricate the vocal folds.  If that were to happen, we would choke and cough badly!  Think about what happens when you drink something and it goes down the 'wrong pipe'. 

Whispering may actually make your vocal folds work harder. 

Maximum phonation time (MPT):
The average time during which an individual can sustain a sound at a comfortable pitch and loudness (with one breath). An MPT of more than 15 seconds is commonly considered to be normal for adults.  Women are thought to be more talkative than men; but, in some studies, males have been found to have a longer MPT than females.

Voice problems usually have multiple causes. Even with good voicing technique that optimizes breathing, vocal fold vibration and amplification, it is still possible to develop a problem if other lifestyle and medical issues are not addressed.

So take care of your voice and it will take care of you. 

by Rich Brennan

Source:  Singapore General Hospital (SGH), a member of the SingHealth group.

The information provided within this blog is intended for general information and is provided with the understanding that no recommendation, surgical and/or medical advice is being rendered. Please do not disregard the professional advice of your physician