Protect your Voice!
Our voices are valuable things! Without a voice, how would we talk? How would we cheer on our favorite team? How would we sing in the shower or the car? We couldn’t!
Voices are an important, but often overlooked, part of our every day lives. Just like any part of our body, we need to ensure we care for our voices so they can be healthy, and work for us for life!
Vocal hygiene is very important to help avoid damage to our vocal folds. Damage to our vocal folds can come from a variety of causes. Two common causes of vocal fold injury/damage are vocal abuse and vocal misuse. What are they? Let’s take a look….
Vocal abuse is defined as normal vocal behaviors used in excess, which can lead to vocal fold injury. Examples of vocal abuse include:
- Frequent throat clearing/coughing
- Excessive, loud talking
- Imitating noises (e.g. car, motorcycle, airplane)
- Grunting while exercising
Vocal misuse is defined as abnormal vocal behaviors that cause stress, and potentially injury to your vocal folds. Examples of vocal misuse include:
- Talking when stressed
- Professional voice use (e.g. teaching, acting, singing, etc.)
- Talking when tired
- Using low/high pitch voices
- Imitating character/people voices
- Talking when you have a cold/upper respiratory infection
Vocal abuse and misuse can cause a variety of injuries/traumas to your vocal folds including vocal fold swelling, vocal fold nodules/cysts, and vocal fold hemorrhage. Vocal hygiene is important to avoiding and preventing these issues from occurring!
In order to protect our voice, and ensure you can talk, cheer, and sing for many years, SLP’s recommend following these rules:
- Hydrate! Make an effort to carry water with you throughout the day. Try to drink small amounts frequently throughout the day rather than gulping down a large amount of water at once. It is recommended that men drink approximately 100 oz of water and women drink approximately 75 ounces of water each day! Hydrated vocal folds are happy vocal folds!
- Replace dehydrating beverages (e.g. coffee, tea, soda, alcohol) with water.
- Decrease throat clearing – If you feel like you need to clear your throat, try swallowing hard or sipping water first!
- Quit smoking.
- Avoid over-use of your voice. Avoid lengthy conversations, rest your voice for 10-15 minutes for every 2 hours of talking, avoid screaming/yelling, don’t talk if your voice is hoarse, or you have a cold.
- Listen to what your voice is telling you!
Practicing these rules will help you have a healthy, happy voice!!