Short of Breath in Conversation: Causes and Most Effective Improvement Methods

A breathless voice accompanied by fatigue and difficulty breathing poses communication challenges. The causes and effective improvements for shortness of breath during speech will be detailed in the following content.

What causes shortness of breath during speech?

The voice is generated by the vibration of the vocal cords and the pressure of exhaled air from the lungs. In many cases, normal speech suddenly feels breathless, hindering communication and directly impacting the health of the affected individuals.

Speech fatigue affects communication ability.

Speech fatigue affects communication ability.

The reasons for the phenomenon of speech fatigue include:


There are numerous causes leading to a shaky and fatigued voice, among which laryngitis stands out as a prominent manifestation. The quality of sound is regulated by the inner muscles of the larynx along with the shape and tension of the vocal cords when the air flows through. If the vocal cords are inflamed, it can result in a sore throat, hoarseness, and voice fatigue during singing, particularly leading to speech fatigue.

Speech fatigue caused by vocal cord nodules

When the vocal cords are excessively strained, such as prolonged speaking, loud singing, or yelling, it can cause the vocal cords not to close properly. This can lead to the formation of symmetrical nodules on the vocal cords, with widened fiber feet. Individuals with vocal cord nodules often experience quick exhaustion during speech, breathlessness, and prolonged hoarseness.

Due to vocal cord nerve damage

In case of accidents or certain complications following respiratory tract surgery, it can cause damage to the vocal cord nerves, resulting in improper closure of the vocal cords or even paralysis. This is one of the reasons why the vocal cords cannot be controlled to produce a healthy, clear voice, leading to prolonged hoarseness, speech fatigue, and quick exhaustion during speech.

Injury to the vocal cord nerves can cause difficulties in speaking.

Injury to the vocal cord nerves can cause difficulties in speaking.

Vocal cord polyps

Vocal cord polyps are characterized by the appearance of small, thin masses along the vocal cords, ranging in size from a postage stamp to a pea. Polyps can alter the structure of the vocal cords, making the larynx unable to close properly, leading to prolonged hoarseness, loss of voice, shaky voice, difficulty breathing, and speech fatigue.

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Speech fatigue due to various cancers

In some cases of cancer such as throat cancer, mediastinal cancer, thyroid cancer, or vocal cord cancer, it can directly affect the voice. Individuals may exhibit specific symptoms such as speech fatigue, difficulty breathing, swallowing difficulties, coughing up blood, and, more dangerously, a threat to life.

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Treatment for Shortness of Breath in Conversation

To achieve clear, strong, and sustained vocal output without experiencing breathlessness and fatigue, controlling your breath is crucial. Below are some measures to alleviate speech fatigue:

Diaphragmatic breathing

Engaging the abdominal muscles helps in taking deeper breaths and sustaining them for longer periods. If you raise your shoulders and puff out your chest while speaking, it can easily lead to fatigue. Place your hand on your abdomen, take a deep breath, focus on keeping your shoulders and chest in place, and start exhaling slowly and gently. Regular practice of these exercises can help establish good habits to improve breath control and reduce speech fatigue.

Practice chest breathing to avoid breathlessness.

Practice chest breathing to avoid breathlessness.

Maintain an appropriate mouth opening while speaking

When experiencing a shaky and breathless voice, it could be due to opening your mouth too wide or too narrow. Adjust your mouth opening by widening it, meaning the lower jaw moves downward, while the hinge of the upper and lower jaw opens up. Be mindful of limiting horizontal movements as they can distort and strain the sound.

Keep the larynx relaxed

Many people have a habit of lowering or raising their larynx while speaking. This can result in a voice that lacks resonance, sounding strained, and becoming more fatigued. Therefore, keep the larynx relaxed, speak at a normal pace to avoid voice shaking during conversation.

Speech fatigue can be caused by certain daily habits, but it can also be a warning sign of underlying health issues. If experiencing frequent breathlessness, it is advisable to seek medical advice to identify the underlying causes and find the best possible solutions to improve your condition, thereby avoiding any impact on your overall health.

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