By Jodi Knight, Speech Therapist
Keeping your voice healthy all year long can be challenging. Lots of things can cause strain (and pain) to your vocal cords including allergies, colds, and work or home life. Our voice is an invaluable resource that we often do not think about until it stops working properly. You know the feeling of a sore, dry, hoarse sounding voice (like you have a frog in your throat), or worse, losing your voice all together.
Most people use their voices frequently during a typical day when talking with their kids, pets, co-workers, neighbors or customers. Some professions are prone to voice problems including teachers, coaches, customer service representatives, preachers and singers. Other people who frequently report voice problems include people with compromised lung disease, such as asthma and COPD as well children who are often found using excessively loud voices when playing.
- Maintain hydration- Drink plenty of water and keep the air in your home from being too dry.
- Manage your mucus. Use saline nasal rinse or other natural products to eliminate stuffy/runny nose.
- Reduce reflux and heartburn. Stomach acid can wreak havoc on your vocal cords. Reflux can occur without symptoms. Coughing at night, sour taste in your mouth, heartburn, and voice changes can all be symptoms of reflux.
- Give your voice a rest during times of irritation. Do not force your voice when it is hoarse or irritated.
- Stop excessive throat clearing and coughing. This can irritate sensitive tissue.
- Practice good breathing techniques and use good posture. Breathing properly helps to avoid excess tension in the neck. Poor posture puts pressure on your stomach and restricts your breathing.
- Reduce yelling, screaming or using excessive volume. If you need to talk loudly, use a microphone or amplification device.
- Quit smoking– it irritates the vocal cords and lungs.
- Avoid fumes and harsh chemicals. Products with alcohol can be drying to your mouth and throat.
- Manage constipation. Chronic constipation can put pressure on your stomach causing reflux as well as limiting your breathing.
You need a voice. Protecting it against temporary or long-term damage is essential. These tips can set you on the right track to a healthy throat and voice all season long. If you continue to have problems with your voice even after implementing these tips, consider voice therapy. A speech-language pathologist who is experienced in treating voice problems can teach you how to use your voice in a healthy way. Talk with your doctor to see if voice therapy might be right for you.