From monotone to husky – what your VOICE can reveal about your future health | The Sun

From monotone to husky – what your VOICE can reveal about your future health | The Sun

FROM singing to screaming: our voices allow us to express a vast range of thoughts and feelings.

But they also offer clues to the inner workings of our bodies.

The vocal cords are what make the sound of your voice.

These are located in your the larynx, a part of the respiratory system that allows air to pass from your throat to your lungs.

When air passes through the lungs and then the larynx, it causes the vocal cords to vibrate, which produces sound, aka your voice.

Like any part of your body, your vocal cords and the surrounding area can be effected by illness.

And because we use our voices all day, everyday, it can be very obvious when something is wrong.

We spoke to consultant laryngologist and airway surgeon Mr Chadwan Al Yaghchi, to find out what sort of health issues your voice can reveal.

1. Husky voice: HPV

A husky voice in the morning, or after a heavy night, is to expected.

According to the NHS it's usually a sign of acute laryngitisis (inflammation of the voice box), which happens because of a cold, a chest infection or overusing the voice.

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You can usually fix it with some TLC and a few early bedtimes.

But in some cases, a gruff voice can be a sign of something serious, like cancer or HPV.

"Anyone who has a horse of husky voice for other three weeks should see a doctor to get their vocal cords examined," Mr Chadwan.

Chances are, the huskiness will be down to "something benign" like a polyp or nodule on the vocal folds, he said.

These are non-cancerous growths which prevent your vocal cords (also called vocal folds) from vibrating normally. They can be removed through surgery.

"In rarer cases it sign of a serious cancerous growth or HPV," he added.

Both HPV and cancer also cause growths of the vocal folds.

HPV is sexually transmitted but – because it doesn't tend to cause symptoms or problems – most people don't even know they have it.

It can be passed on via oral sex, which is why it can end up in the throat.

There are about 200 different strains of the disease, most of which are harmless and resolve on their own.

In some cases, it can trigger warts or growths, which when in the throat can affect the voice.

But two strains – HPV16 and HPV18 – can trigger cancers, including cancers of the neck like pharyngeal (throat) and laryngeal (voice box).

Other symptoms of neck cancer include pain swallowing, shortness of breath and weight loss.

2. Monotone voice: Parkinson's disease

A monotone voice can flatten even the most fun topic into something dull. 

And make matters worse, a single toned voice can also be a sign of a neurological disease, like Parkinson's, Mr Chadwan explained.

He said: "This is because movement of the vocal folds is controlled by the brain, so if something goes wrong in the brain the voice is often affected.

"People with the disease are likely to suffer from poor articulation, and soft, breathy, monotone voices."

Parkinson's is a condition the causes parts of the brain to become progressively damaged over many years.

It's thought that approximately one in 500 people are affected by the condition.

Exactly what causes the loss of nerve cells is unclear.

But most experts believe that a combination of genetic and environmental factors is responsible.

A Chinese study published earlier found a flat monotonous voice could be a sign of depression.

The researchers found the voice can be a strong indicator of mental health, with those who's voices have less range being "significantly" more likely to be unhappy.

3. Deep voice: PCOS

Deeper voices are usually associated with men – and there is a scientific reason for this.

"The vocal cords are two bands of muscle, and like all muscles in the body it grows when pumped with the male hormone testosterone," explains Mr Chadwan.

This means women who suffer from certain hormonal issues like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) also likely to experience a deeper voice, he added.

PCOS is a common condition that affects how a woman's ovaries work.

In some women, it can be triggered by hormonal imbalances, like high levels of insulin or androgens ('male' hormones).

Other symptoms include acne, irregular periods and cysts in the ovaries.


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However, a deeper voice is most likely to the result of smoking.

"Smoking irritates the vocal folds by drying them out which can make the voice sound much lower," the expert said.

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