Vocal Hygiene – 10 Tips for Taking Care of Your Voice
Two aspects that typically stand out after having met someone new are – the person’s face and voice. Each persons’ voice is individualistic – and it defines them. The voice is an outcome of sound from our vocal cords. Our vocal system, which consists of the lungs, vocal cords, larynx, pharynx and oral system defines each person’s voice. The vocal cords vibrate to produce sound that is used for talking, singing and much more.
Tips for Taking Care of Your Voice –
Improper use of the voice can lead to change in quality of voice – such as hoarseness (breathiness), harshness (roughness) in voice. It can also cause polyps or nodules (growths on the vocal cords). A complete ENT evaluation will define the course of treatment. The treatments can vary from – having a period of voice rest (resting the voice for a specified duration of time), use of prescribed medication, therapy (with a speech language pathologist), to the need for surgery (by an ENT surgeon) followed by post op- care and therapy to recover the voice.
Typically, good daily habits to take care of our face, teeth and skin are known by all; however, many of us would not know of such habits (vocal hygiene) or use them for our voices. Do you habitually have good ‘vocal hygiene’?
Vocal hygiene refers to habits that take care of the voice and vocal cords, ensuring minimal wear and tear. Consistent use of these habits provides positive long-term effects. Following and remembering few tips can go a long way.
Top 10 tips encouraging good vocal hygiene:
Excessive yelling or shouting is considered ‘vocal abuse’. Begin to be aware of the loudness of your voice in different situations (e.g. when talking to a peer, or a family or in larger gatherings). Monitor your loudness to suit the situation. Try to stop the use of loud voices too often or for long durations of time.
- A regular habit of smoking can cause irritation to the vocal cords. Giving up smoking is ideal for good vocal cords and voice.
- Ensure that you are hydrated throughout the day. Take sips of water regularly. Try to replace caffeine (including soda, coffee etc.) with water as often as possible. This will ensure hydration of the vocal cords.
- Every individual has a specific pitch (of their voice) which is ideal for their vocal system. It is best to use that ‘ideal’ pitch while talking. Consistently talking in a pitch that is too high or low can affect the voice box. Find your ideal voice (if needed with help from a speech therapist) and make it habitual.
- Are you consistently clearing your throat? Doing that too often can cause annoyance to the vocal cords. Reduce the habit, as far as possible. Try to clear the throat, at first, by drinking water. If that does not help, clear it by humming gently.
- If your profession demands you to use your voice often, take some voice ‘breaks’ from time to time. These are short duration breaks, (e.g. between lectures/ classes), wherein the voice is rested. This will help take care of the voice and make sure it does not tire.
- Being aware when the voice ‘tires’ or ‘is not sounding its best’ is important. If the vocal cords are irritated, the voice may tire / become harsh to hear, throat may pain while speaking or the voice may lose its loudness. These are all indicators that it needs extra care. Resting the voice (‘voice rest’) is important to begin with. If the issue persists, seeking of professional help is important.
- If the voice is irritated due to inflammation such as during laryngitis. Take the (voice) rest that is needed. Follow the prescribed medication, if any, and drink a lot of fluids. Many a times we may skip the time for relaxation due to an overwhelming schedule, but that can prolong the recovery and may cause further complications.
- Few medical issues – such as gastric reflux, allergies or asthma – can affect the vocal system. Seek advice of a physician early on to eliminate or treat these conditions before they begin to affect the voice.
- Limiting self-medication is vital. Few medicines may aggravate or irritate–the throat, vocal system and cords. Seek proper medical advice and take prescribed medication, as far as possible.
Many of these tips require you to be aware of the voice and how it’s being used. Such simple introspection is important for developing good vocal hygiene.
All Above point 10 Tips for Taking Care of Your Voice
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