What’s common between being on a looping and dashing rollercoaster, in between sweaty crowds for Beyoncé’s concert and that creepy haunted house? Well, it’s the fact that when people find themselves there, the rest sure like to yell!
People yell when they see someone from afar they know, or when their favorite basketball player took that 3-point score before the timer ended. However, it seems like voices also have an endpoint by which one can no longer scream, and all that’s left is a hoarse welp.
So why does persistent yelling make one hoarse? Why can’t humans merely continue yelling and screaming? When a person has a task or job that requires them to make use of their voice for some time, especially in an everyday scenario of an instructor or when they talk loudly, why does hoarseness or the loss of voice frequently happen?
First of all, what is “Hoarseness”? According to Dr. Steven Doerr, it is “an abnormal change in the voice caused by a variety of conditions.” Hoarseness can be observed when someone sounds breathy, raspy, or rough when talking. From a pitch and volume changes to a transition of a deep to a weak, raspy voice, hoarseness is caused by the injury or irritation of vocal cords.
Because of long-term use of the voice, nodules, which are callus-like growths, form on the vocal cords, thus make a person hoarse. Some people can lose their voices and get laryngitis, which is the inflammation of the tissues lining the vocal cords.
Hoarseness happens because the vocal cords are strained with excessive use, like when people yell. The vocal cords are the larynx’s, also known as the voice box, tissues. When we converse or sing or use our voices, the air is pushed out of the lungs, and the vocal cords tighten up, moving closer to one another. As the air from the lungs passes through from the trachea and onto the larynx, the vocal cords vibrate. With tongue, teeth, and lip movement, the vibration gives us what we hear: the human voice.
But when people use their voices in an unnatural way, such as yelling, screaming, cheering, speaking extremely fast and loud or forcefully saying words, there is “Excess Wear and Tear” on theses vocal cords. As they rub against each other and stretch frequently, these cords become irritated. The vibration causes vocal cords to “slam” together, and this percussive action causes these vocal cord tissues to swell. This prevents the normal vibration of the membranes that compose the folds. The epithelium, a thin cell layer that surfaces the vocal cords, gets damaged.
Take, for example, a flute. This instrument is played by blowing through the hole to create a musical note or two. However, if the vibrating pipe is poured in with water through the holes, it makes it difficult for the flute to vibrate, and thus music can’t be played. When someone sounds hoarse, the air slips through the vocal cords without crafting a comprehensible sound.
This hoarseness becomes severe if the yelling is accompanied by causes that preexisted before the voice exertion, such as growths on or near the cords, smoking, hypothyroidism, Gastroesophageal Reflux (GER) and allergies.
In terms of severity, this hoarseness can progress into Chronic Hoarseness, which is long-lasting misuse of the vocal cords and more significant inflammation and injury. This occurs when treatments are not accepted, and when the behavior that causes the hoarseness doesn’t stop. Sometimes this hoarseness happens because of the formation of a vocal fold hemorrhage, rupture of blood vessels on vocal fold surfaces that then cause the tissues to fill with blood.
But likened to almost any condition, there is a treatment that will relieve a person back to being able to talk again like usual. More pronounced “vocal hygiene” aids in recovery. It involves changing behavior that causes stress to the vocal cords, staying hydrated and avoiding beverages with so much caffeine such as coffee and soda, because these drinks can dry out vocal cords. Being aware of the behavior that causes hoarseness is a first step to avoiding this from happening.
People are given the gift of speech, but just like anything, when used in excess, the overuse can harm. So before yelling one’s loudest at the noisiest, rowdiest parade, it’s best to be sure that one can call himself a spokesperson for his or her vocal cord’s health.