No matter your age, gender, or whether you’re a 50-something CEO at work, a professional vocalist on stage, or a youngster in class, voice cracks can occur.
With very few exceptions, everyone has a voice, and everyone can get voice cracks.
✅ Several factors can cause your voice to crack.
✅ However, there’s no reason to be concerned, particularly if you’re in the middle of puberty or have just been chatting a lot.
✅ If you observe any long-term alterations in your voice or general health that have led to persistent voice cracking, consult a doctor.
✅ If necessary, they can determine the cause and give you treatment alternatives.
Structure of the voice
Air rushing from your lungs, the vibration of two parallel pieces of tissue called the vocal folds or vocal cords, and muscular movements in and around the larynx, also known as the voice box, all contribute to the tone and volume of your voice.
The laryngeal muscles expand and close as well as tighten and loosen your vocal folds as you talk or sing and alter your pitch and volume. The folds are compressed and tightened when your voice is loud. They are separated and made loose when you speak quietly.
When these muscles rapidly lengthen, shorten, or tighten, voice cracks might result. Let’s assist you to identify which of the many possible reasons for a crack best fits your situation and what you might be able to do to prevent it.
What makes a voice crack?
Here is a list of some of the most typical reasons voice cracks occur.
The most frequent reason for voice cracks is this.
A vocal crack of this nature is likewise totally normal. Hormone production dramatically increases during puberty in boys (and, to a lesser extent, in girls) to aid in the growth and development of new features known as secondary sexual characteristics.
This entails developing breasts and testicles as well as hair growth in areas like the groin and underarms.
Your vocal box is experiencing a few changes at this time as well:
Your throat’s larynx descends, your voice folds thicken and enlarge, the muscles and ligaments around the larynx expand, and the mucus membranes surrounding the vocal folds form new layers.
Your vocal cords’ movements while you speak may become unstable due to this abrupt change in size, shape, and thickness. As you get adjusted to the altered anatomical configuration in your neck, the muscles are more prone to suddenly tighten or lose control, resulting in a crack or squeak.
Increasing or decreasing your voice
The cricothyroid (CT) muscle’s action determines the pitch of your voice. The CT muscle should be utilized gently, carefully, and after training, just like any other muscle. The muscle may stiffen and become difficult to move if used too quickly or without sufficient warming up.
The laryngeal muscles can swiftly tighten, loosen, expand, or contract if you attempt to aggressively change your pitch or volume without first performing some vocal exercises. This is especially true of the CT muscle.
Your voice cracks as a result of the CT muscle’s rapid movement while attempting to change from a high to a low pitch or volume.
Vocal cord ailments
Long-term speaking, singing, or yelling can irritate your vocal folds and potentially harm this tissue, causing lesions, which are injuries.
The vocal tissues harden when the lesions heal, creating nodules—calloused patches. Additionally, allergies, sinus infections, and acid reflux can result in lesions.
Your vocal folds’ flexibility and size may be impacted by nodules. As a result, your vocal folds may struggle to produce typical sounds, which may result in squeaks and cracks.
It’s really simple with this one: For appropriate movement, your vocal folds need to be wet.
The vocal folds can’t move as smoothly and may irregularly alter size or form when you talk or sing if you haven’t had any water or other liquids in a while.
Additionally, dehydration can result by drinking alcohol or coffee, both of which are diuretics that increase urination, or from excessive sweating without adequate hydration. All of this may cause voice crackling, hoarseness, or raspiness.
Inflammation of the vocal folds or laryngeal muscles is known as laryngitis. This typically results from a viral infection, although it can also occur if you simply use your voice excessively.
If laryngitis is brought on by illness or overuse, it often only lasts a short while. But chronic laryngitis, which can be brought on by inflammation brought on by long-term factors like smoking, acid reflux, or air pollution, can harm your vocal folds and larynx irreparably.
Your entire body tenses up when you’re apprehensive or frightened.
This may also apply to the laryngeal muscles. The muscles don’t move as freely when they are stiff or tight. Your vocal folds can no longer move freely because of this. As a result of the folds’ difficulty moving in response to variations in pitch and volume, this may cause strains or fractures when you speak.
What can be done?
You shouldn’t be concerned if puberty is the cause of your cracks. If not earlier, you’ll likely cease using crack in your early 20s. Everyone develops differently; some people may find their adult voice by the time they are 17 or 18, while others may not begin to crack until they are in their mid-20s.
Here are some suggestions to reduce or stop voice cracks if they are caused by other factors:
- Sip a lot of water. To keep your throat wet and yourself hydrated, especially if you live in a dry environment like a desert, consume at least 64 ounces of fluid every day. Drink water that is at room temperature if you sing or talk a lot since cold water can restrict laryngeal muscle action.
- Steer clear of abrupt volume changes. An “inner voice” or a scream or yell could be the source of this.
- Practice vocal exercises to warm up your voice. This will be useful if you intend to sing, speak out, or converse for a long time.
- Try practicing deep breathing. These can assist you in maintaining control over your lung capacity, airflow, and volume.
- Take cough medicine, lozenges, or cough drops. This is beneficial, especially if your throat is becoming overworked or exhausted due to a persistent cough or laryngitis.
Prevention is better than cure
Making some lifestyle adjustments may be necessary to prevent vocal cracks. You might attempt the following methods to lessen voice cracks:
- Reduce or stop smoking. Your throat may also become damaged by the chemicals in tobacco or nicotine products, as well as the heat produced by many tobacco products.
- Decrease anxiety and tension. Your voice is cracking because of the tension. Before you talk or sing, do whatever it is that helps you feel peaceful and at ease, such as yoga, meditation, or listening to music.
- Consult a speech pathologist. It might only require learning the most effective ways to utilize your voice to prevent fractures. A specialist like a speech-language pathologist can help you learn how to use your voice safely and purposefully and can spot any clinical problems or bad habits you have when you talk.
- Work with a voice instructor. Your vocal folds and laryngeal muscles can be safeguarded by utilizing expert techniques for changing pitch, loudness, and projection that a voice coach can teach you to use when learning to sing or speak in public.
When should a go and speak with my doctor?
You shouldn’t be concerned if your voice occasionally cracks, especially if you’re young and otherwise healthy. Even if you take precautions to keep your vocal cords hydrated and healthy, if your voice still cracks frequently, consult a doctor to rule out any underlying medical conditions that may be harming your vocal cords.
Nodules and neurological problems like vocal dysphonia might make it difficult for you to talk or sing clearly. Nodules may grow to such a size that they obstruct your airways, making breathing difficult.
The following additional signs and symptoms should prompt a visit to the doctor.
Hoarseness that lasts for a week or longer, a persistent feeling of a lump in your throat, difficulty swallowing, fatigue, pain or tension when speaking or singing, a persistent cough, the need to constantly clear your throat, coughing up blood or phlegm that is an abnormal color, hoarseness that lasts for weeks or longer, and the loss of your ability to speak or sing in your normal range.