We use our own voices every day to communicate with family, friends, coworkers, and everyone else we interact with. Your voice is uniquely yours—that’s why it’s important to keep your voice healthy. There are many ways that voice problems can arise, but thankfully there are simple ways to prevent them. Here are a few simple things you can do the keep your voice healthy.
Keep good hygiene. You may have had a cold, the flu, or other illness that leaves your throat scratchy and your voice gravelly. A bad, persistent cough makes it even worse. Some cold viruses cause laryngitis, which is an inflammation of the larynx and swelling of the voice box. While most times people can’t control when they get sick, it’s still worthwhile to take precautions. Don’t forget to wash your hands regularly, especially during cold season, and get a flu shot every year. These good habits combined with good general hygiene will keep your voice healthy, along with the rest of you!
Stay hydrated. Drinking plenty of water—6 to 8 glasses per day or so helps keep our vocal cords moving properly. Because our vocal cords move rapidly to produce sounds, they must remain lubricated. Consuming enough water each day helps ensure that enough mucous is produced to keep your vocal cords lubricated. It’s also wise to moderate our consumption of coffee and alcohol—beverages that dehydrate us and can negatively affect our vocal health.
Avoid smoking. While the negative effects of smoking are now common knowledge, even second-hand smoke can cause irritation and inflammation of the throat and vocal chords. In addition to lung and throat cancer, smoking regularly can cause permanent damage to vocal chords, changing the sound and limiting vocal range.
Limit times when you strain your voice, such as shouting or extensive loud singing. Our vocal cords vibrate to produce even small noises, and shouting too much can really cause irritation and hoarseness from excessive movement. Keep this in mind when you’re at ball games or other events and have the temptation to cheer and shout the entire time. Your vocal chords will thank you for minimizing your shouting, and you’ll avoid becoming completely hoarse. If you’re a singer, try to avoid overly straining your voice repeatedly—it’s OK to take breaks!
If you become hoarse or irritated, whether caused by illness or excessive yelling and shouting, it’s important to let your voice rest and recover. If you have vocal problems that persist, make an appointment with us at Arkansas Otolaryngology Center!