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Dear Dish-It: My Voice Keeps Cracking!

Dear Dish-it,


I'm in 7th grade and my voice is cracking constantly. Whenever I talk it’s cracked and feels very high pitched and then goes back to normal. Then it just cracks again. It gets very annoying when I’m talking to my friends about something. My friends like to make fun of me because of my voice getting all squally. And I'm like the only one in my grade that has this happen :(. Is it some sign of puberty? Is there any way you can help?


J


Dear J,


Pardon the pun, but it SOUNDS like you’re going through puberty! Both boys and girls experience voice changes as they grow older, but girls' voices get only a little deeper. A boy's voice, on the other hand, may change quite a bit – from sounding like a little kid to sounding like somebody's dad!


Larger Larynx

So, why and how does your voice start to change? The larynx, also known as your voice box, actually gets bigger during puberty. Located in your throat, the larynx is a tube-shaped piece of cartilage (the same stuff your ears and nose are made of) that, among other things, is responsible for letting you talk, sing, hum, yell, laugh and make all sorts of noises. Well, when a boy reaches puberty, his body starts making lots of testosterone, a hormone that causes his larynx to grow and his vocal cords (thin muscles that stretch across the larynx like rubber bands) to get longer and thicker. This causes your voice to start cracking as it begins its journey to changing and becoming deeper.


Sweet Sounds

When you speak, air rushes from your lungs and makes your vocal cords vibrate, producing the sound of your voice. If you've ever plucked a small, thin rubber band, you've heard the high-pitched twang it makes when it's stretched. A thicker rubber band makes a deeper, lower-pitched twang. It's the same sort of thing with vocal cords. Before you reach puberty, your larynx is pretty small and your vocal cords are also kinda small and thin. That's why your voice is higher than an adult's. As you go through puberty, the larynx gets bigger and the vocal cords lengthen and thicken, so your voice gets deeper. As your body adjusts to this changing equipment, your voice may "crack" or "break." But this process lasts only a few months. Once the larynx is finished growing, your voice won't make those unpredictable, funny noises anymore.


Adam’s Apple

Not only do older guys and men sound different from boys, but you can also see the difference in their necks. When the larynx grows bigger, it tilts to a different angle and part of it sticks out inside the neck. You can see it at the front of the throat. This is known as the Adam's apple.


For girls, the larynx also grows bigger but not as much as in boys, so you can't see it through a girl's skin. There is no "Eve's apple" in a woman's neck.


Every Voice is Different

Everyone's timetable is different, so some kids' voices might start to change earlier and some might start a little later. Some voices might drop gradually, whereas others might drop quickly. If you’re reading this and, unlike J, this hasn't happened to you yet, don't worry. And if you're like J and going through this now, try not to stress too much about the funny noises you make. It can help to talk to a parent, an older sibling, or a friend who's already gone through the voice change. Before you know it, your voice will sound clear, strong, and more grown-up!


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