We’ve all had that moment where our voice just stops working properly.
Whether it’s that terrible ‘squeak’ sound, or a complete lack of voice, it’s a horrible feeling and it’s happened to us all.
But, how can you know whether you’ve actually done real damage to your vocal cords?
And if you have done damage, how can you recover your voice?
That’s what we’re going to find out today.
Here I want to discuss 5 different signs that you are actually damaging your voice, as well as how to fix the problem.
Additionally, we’ll see how to prevent vocal damage entirely!
Let’s get your voice back to its peak performance.
Free Download: Click here to download The 8 Secret Singing Tips, which is a free eBook that helps you improve your voice instantly.
Signs You are Damaging Your Voice
1. Hoarseness Over a Period of Time
A hoarse voice produces a sort of raspy or breathy sound when you speak or sing. While it might be normal to be a bit hoarse at times, if your voice continues to sound like this for a period of a week or two, you may be looking at a serious vocal issue.
2. Loss of Your Normal Vocal Range
This is especially true for the higher vocal range. You might find that suddenly you are straining to hit notes that were once easy.
Again, don’t panic immediately. This might just be a result of tiredness. If your vocal range returns after a good night’s sleep, you’re fine. The real issue is when this problem persists.
3. Difficulty Singing Loudly
Shouting notes is not the same as singing them. If you feel that you have to shout to reach a volume that was once comfortable for you, this could be a sign of vocal damage.
4. Tension in the Jaw or Throat After Singing
To check tension, place your palms on either cheek and pull downwards across your jaw and down your throat. Test regularly, and stop singing when you feel an extreme amount of tension.
5. Pain or Discomfort When Singing
If you feel that you need to really push yourself or use a lot of energy to produce vocalizations, this means something is wrong. Try to focus on which muscles you’re actually using when singing, keeping in mind that the only thing that should be moving is your vocal cords.
The Root of the Problem, and How to Fix it
Overuse and pressure on the voice can lead to different problems within your vocal cords.
If you’re experiencing the warning signs above, and have been for a period of time, then you could be causing serious damage to your vocal cords.
Over time, if you keep straining your voice, this could lead to vocal nodules or polyps.
Nodules on the vocal cords are a bit like the callouses that build up on your fingertips when you play guitar. However, unlike callouses, these nodules are not a normal part of singing, and can cause permanent damage.
In a similar way, polyps can be considered like blisters. They form on the vocal folds when someone abuses their voice. If you’re screaming to hit high notes, these polyps can form in an extremely short period of time.
So, what’s the solution?
If you are feeling the above symptoms for more than a week, you need to set up an appointment with an ENT (ear, nose, and throat doctor) immediately.
And while you’re waiting for that appointment, you must stop singing entirely.
This is not something to take lightly.
If you have vocal nodules or polyps and continue to strain your voice, this could actually lead to permanent damage.
And do you know what 90% of ENTs will prescribe to fix the problem? Complete vocal rest for a month or more.
I can’t stress how important it is to stop singing as soon as you realize these symptoms are staying with you for longer than they should. This is the only way to save your voice.
Prevention is Better Than a Cure
Unfortunately, many professional singers consider vocal damage to be a part of the business.
This is absolutely not true.
While temporary problems may be normal, persistent issues are not normal. So how can you prevent these problems from happening?
Here are 4 essential tips to prevent vocal damage:
1. Don’t Push Your Voice
When you’ve been rehearsing for 60-90 minutes, stop and take a break. If you feel like you’re straining your voice, stop immediately. Pushing yourself beyond where you feel comfortable will only cause damage, it will not help you.
If you’re going to be performing, try to rest your voice as much as you can both before and after.
2. Stay Hydrated
When your vocal cords stay well hydrated, this helps you avoid hurting them. Pay special attention during the summer, due to the heat and the dry air produced by air conditioning.
Also, be careful not to take in too much caffeine or alcohol, which both lead to dehydration.
3. ALWAYS Warm Up
This part of your singing routine cannot be skipped. Warming up your voice is very similar to warming up other muscles in your body.
For example, think about a runner. If you don’t stretch out and warm up your muscles before running, you could cause yourself serious damage. (I know this from experience!)
The same is true with your voice. Warming up is an essential part of singing that cannot be skipped.
Through vocal training, you can find the right kind of warm up for your voice, so as to ‘stretch out’ your vocal cords before you start singing.
4. Get Vocal Training
Proper vocal training can guide you through even more ways to prevent damage to your voice. A vocal trainer can teach you how to sing correctly, without straining your voice.
You’ll be able to learn the correct techniques so as to keep your vocal cords happy and healthy, and continue singing without fear of causing damage to yourself.
Get Your Voice to Peak Performance
If you’re going to take anything away from this article, please remember this: damaging your vocal cords is not just a fact of singing.
You can easily prevent vocal damage by learning how to sing properly, and not overstraining your voice.
This is not only one of the most cost effective ways to prevent damage to your voice, but you can actually improve yourself as a singer!
Let’s make sure that your voice is at its best!