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What’s the Impact of Whispering on Vocal Rest?

What’s the Impact of Whispering on Vocal Rest?It’s time to learn which poor vocal production habits to avoid -says Speech Language Pathologist Kristie Reece Knickerbocker

I was informed when I received voice therapy myself that I was not allowed to talk or whisper for a week following my surgery.

Some people say the real myth is that whispering is as bad as shouting. Is it?

For her own voice issues, an SLP who received treatment like me, was told that whispering would save the voice, but she found it to increase fatigue and pain for her. Go figure.

Shouting and whispering differ in placement and technique, but whispering can sometimes turn into a hyperfunctional breathy voice where vocal production is made with an incomplete vocal fold closure.

Whispering could turn into a poor vocal production habit

Ah, there’s the danger. A study in 2006 examined 100 patients with a fiberoptic camera. Only 70 percent of the patients showed supraglottic hyperfunction while whispering, meaning some of them had no hyperfunction at all.

Other muscles are involved in whispering, and people whisper differently, so some studies suggest that whispering, when low in effort, can be considered for post-op patients.

Bottom Line: Whispering could turn into a poor vocal production habit in the majority of patients, so better to avoid it or monitor it closely on a case-by-case basis.

If you were to whisper with a completely relaxed larynx, it’s hard to get adequate volume anyway. Instead of whispering, text. Don’t we all have smart phones glued to our thumbs?

This is the third in a series of articles by Kristie Knickerbocker.
Previous article: Are Throat Coat Tea and Entertainer’s Secret A Sore Throat Cure-All?
Next article: Do Dairy Products Really Thicken Your Mucus?

Kristie Knickerbocker

Kristie Knickerbocker, MS, CCC-SLP, is a speech-language pathologist and singing voice specialist in Fort Worth, Texas. She provides voice, swallowing and speech therapy in her own private practice, a tempo Voice Center, LLC. She also lectures on the singing voice to area choirs and students. She belongs to ASHA’s Special Interest Group 3-Voice and Voice Disorders. She keeps a blog on her website at www.atempovoicecenter.com

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This article is adapted from Kristie’s blog which first appeared on The American Speech Language Hearing Association site www.Asha.org.

  • Voicelover

    I’m not sure this is an adequate assessment of the scientific literature on this subject. Please keep in mind, the study cited ONLY dealt with whispering in a disordered population. This does not provide us any reliable evidence on whether whispering is damaging for those without voice concerns and the article did not suggest that those with relatively healthy whispering mechanics should abstain
    from whispering for any purpose