When the Voice Recovers from Laryngitis, Why Do the Lower Notes Come Back First and the Higher Notes Much Later

Edited by Jerry Rivers, Eng, Lynn, dnyanesh and 2 others

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If you've ever suffered from losing your voice (laryngitis), and enjoy singing, you may have noticed a change in your range once your voice began returning. Interestingly, when you're recovering from laryngitis, the lower notes will come back before the higher notes, which return much later.

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Ordinarily, with practice you can develop the pitch and range of your singing voice. While adding a lot of notes to the high end of your range, you'll find you're only able to add up to four notes to your lower register. Most singers can add as many as entire eight tones (note), or one complete octave to their upper range. So why when recovering from a bout of laryngitis, is it that the lower notes return before the upper ones? There is a physiological reason we will discuss here.

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All About Laryngitis And How It Affects Your Singing Voice

This article will discuss the preventatives, causes, and treatments for laryngitis, so you can hit all the notes again. Whether you sing for a living, or just enjoy singing in the shower, the information below can help you recover and understand just what is going in your throat due to this malady.

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Preventing Laryngitis

If you are a singer, you can help prevent laryngitis. Ordinarily, to keep and expand your vocal range, it is beneficial to warm up your voice. Especially right before singing. Warming up will also help prevent bouts of laryngitis. Warm up with:

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  1. 1
    A professional voice coach will recommend you develop your vocal tone and range.
    With the proper instruction, you will also avoid damaging your vocal cords, and possibly prevent getting laryngitis in the first place.
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  2. 2
    Lip and tongue trills using light air pressure.
    Your belly should slowly move in as you exhale during the lip or tongue trills.
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  3. 3
    Breathing exercises, such as "Yah-ha-ha-ha-ha", in which you release your voice between notes.
    Use a moderate volume as you sing.
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  4. 4
    Be careful not to push your vocals to either end of your range.
    With the steps above, you can develop your singing, but keep in mind that your vocal cords have their limits. It will take time and practice to make them more elastic.
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  5. 5
    Lubricating your vocal cords with some type of Aloe Vera spray product is helpful to maintain your vocal health.
    It's also helpful if you come down with acid reflux, which is the topic for another article about laryngitis: What Causes Voice Burn when Singing. Unless advised by a physician, you only want a throat spray that lubricates, and not one that will numb your throat (such as Xylocaine).
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Causes of Laryngitis

There are many causes for laryngitis, which may include:

  • Not warming up before you sing.
  • Straining your voice.
  • Yelling and screaming.
  • Coughing incessantly.
  • Over-using your voice (talking and singing)
  • Colds and viruses.
  • Nodules, or polyps.

Dealing with Laryngitis

There are things you can do to get through laryngitis faster, and ease any discomfort.

  • Drink lots of water.
  • As well as water, drink other beverages that will soothe your vocal cords - ginger and lemon tea, for example.
  • Rest your larynx.
  • No talking, not singing - don't even whisper. Use sign language, pen-and-paper, texting on your cell phone, or any other form to communicate, but don't use your voice.
  • Use a "hot-air "humidifier to keep those "pipes" moist.
  • When the swelling goes down on your vocal cords, especially if an infection caused the laryngitis, you know you are on the mend.
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The Aftermath of Laryngitis

Once your voice begins to return, you'll find the lower range comes back first. Here are some recommendations to help you get your singing voice back successfully:

  1. 1
    If you are a singer, ideally you are under the supervision of a voice coach to begin vocal exercises.
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  2. 2
    Perform the lip and tongue trills.
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  3. 3
    Although the lower notes return first, it is recommended to begin your vocal exercises for now in the middle-range, and then sing toward each extreme when it's comfortable.
    If you cannot hit your usual notes, don't force it. Your voice return to usual, but gradually.
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Why the Lower Notes Come Back First

The reason your lower notes return first from the laryngitis has to do with the vibration of your vocal cords while they are still slightly swollen. When you sing any notes above middle-C, your vocal cords will vibrate up to 1,000 times per second. Singing any notes below the middle-C, your vocal cords vibrate less than 440 times per second. The lower notes are produced with much slower vibration of your vocal cords, and they are least stretched while producing the lower notes. If you must sing the higher notes while the vocal cords are slightly swollen, your vocal cords are vibrating rapidly and stretched thin. Therefore, those low notes will be produced first upon your recovery, even if they are still swollen.

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A voice coach or speech pathologist is advised while you are regaining your singing voice partly for this reason. Naturally, you will tend to be tense in singing at first to protect your larynx when you start to sing again. You'll feel shaky and lack confidence, but if you're tense, you'll naturally tighten your vocal cords, so relax, and enjoy your own voice. A professional voice coach or speech pathologist will know your limits as you regain your voice. Soon you'll be entertaining others with that smooth, rich voice of yours once again.

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Questions and Answers

Why is my voice vibrating, hollow, and breathy?

My vocal chords became dry and are not vibrating properly while singing a C note, or low notes after recovering from nodules - without surgery?===

The nodules are very similar to calluses, and they occur because of overuse, incorrect singing techniques and strain. Vocal cords recover from swelling slowly, and while healing, they ten to vibrate differently, leading to hoarseness. Your vocal-cord tissue is still restrained in creating fast changes in air pressure; thus leading to your indicated symptoms, a temporarily reduced vocal range, and voice cracks.

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As it can be inferred from your question, the treatment is not over, and you should keep working with your certified therapist on your voice training up to a full season until you recover your original voice. You also might need to revise your techniques or life situations to avoid vocal cord abuse (for example, do not talk on the phone by holding it between your ear and your shoulder.

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Hi. I got laryngitis about a month ago, and my voice is slowly recovering?

How much longer will it be before I can begin singing again?. I have tried: Nothing much.. I think it was caused by: Getting a viral infection, which caused the laryngitis.

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Categories : Voice Lessons & Tips

Recent edits by: Jen M, dnyanesh, Lynn

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