Stop Smoking or You May Lose Your Voice

Smoking way too many cigarettes during lockdown?

Smoking causes irritation of the throat. Pixabay


Your stuck at home and if you havent figured out a routine to keep you sane as yet, you’re probably turning to smoking more cigarettes then you normally do. This is a lifestyle article.

But here’s what you should know, smoking has many side effects one of which is the impact on your throat and vocal cords, thus affecting your voice. At first you may notice something is amiss when your normal voice gets a little bit husky. Soon you might find it develops a lot of croaking when you try to speak up.

Dr Atul Kumar Mittal, Director & Head of Department of ENT, Fortis, Memorial Research Institute, Gurugram reveals the details on Smoker’s Voice.

The hoarse raspiness you hear and feel is what one calls as Smoker’s Voice. Smoker’s voice, typically, refers to a gradual reduction of the pitch of the voice, where the voice can become masculinized. The effects are mostly perpetual because of changes in the structure of the vocal fold. The most significant way to protect your voice is to never smoke or to stop smoking.

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Smoking has many side effects one of which is the impact on your throat and vocal cords, thus affecting your voice. Pixabay

Everything we inhale passes right across the vocal cords. Our voice is a result of the vibrations caused by the vocal cords. Ease in these vibrations result in a smooth, natural voice. These sensitive and delicate vocal cords can adversely react to irritants like allergens, dry air, dust, chemical odors, smoking, reflux, etc.

The burning end of a cigarette reaches a temperature of about 9000 C. The lighting of a cigarette generates the energy for releasing constituents such as nicotine, flavour and aroma compounds. However, the chemical reaction created by the heat along with the cigarette components gives rise to many harmful smoke constituents. The tar and other irritants in the smoke causes swelling and other reactions on the cover of the cords.

The most obvious effect of tobacco consumption, through cigarette smoking or otherwise, on the voice is the transition to more severe tones. The human voice is formed by a succession of vibratory cycles, and the more cycles per second a voice has, the sharper it is, and the fewer cycles, the more severe. The more cigarettes are smoked, the more the number of cycles decreases. While nonsmokers have voices with an average of 206 cycles per second, the voice of those who smoke half a daily package goes down to 199 cycles, and reaches 183 cycles in those who smoke more than 10 cigarettes a day, values close to the masculine ones.

Smoking causes irritation of the throat. The chemical component of smoke exerts a continuous irritating action on the vocal cords and its adjacent structures. This causes the inner space of the vocal cords known as vocal folds to fill with physiological fluid, leading to increase in thickness. Hence, they vibrate more slowly and irregularly, and produce a more severe and harsh voice. If the irritation continues, what is a simple discomfort can turn into an edema or swelling, which in many cases requires surgery.

The most significant way to protect your voice is to never smoke or to stop smoking. Pixabay

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Repeated, long-term smoking causes tissue damage leading to cancer. Cancer can develop in the larynx or voice box. Laryngeal cancer can spread to other parts of the body such as the back of the tongue and lungs. Smokers are more at risk of premature death caused by laryngeal cancer than non-smokers. It has been clinically proven that when doctors referred their patients with hoarse voices (not caused by upper respiratory infections) lasting more than 2 weeks on to the E.N.T. specialists for a look at the voice, the stage at which throat cancers were discovered dropped significantly compared to those who were not referred on, and survival rates increased.

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Quitting smoking is one of the best decisions one can make for one’s health. People who smoke are at greater risk of having illnesses such as cancer and heart disease. However, giving up smoking can reduce your risk and put you on a path to better health. Someone has rightly said -, “Smoking is an answer to the most existential question: How are you going to die.” (IANS)