Vocal Care

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Incorporate these essential voice care tips into your daily routine. This will prepare you to make good progress with your treatment, as it is important that your voice is as healthy as possible. 

The vocal cords must be moist; when they are dry, the voice loses flexibility and they are prone to damage.

  • Try to drink 2 liters of water a day. 
  • Make sure you have water on hand and sip water regularly throughout the day. Carrying a bottle of water is a good idea.
  • Herbal teas, water with a lemon wedge, ginger, mint leaves, or diluted juice are good alternatives to water. 
  • Hot drinks are helpful as they help to relax the throat. 
  • Keep your alcohol and caffeine intake low to avoid dehydration. Remember that green, white, and black teas have caffeine. Drink a glass of water if you can't live without a caffeinated drink! This will help moisten the vocal tract.  
  • Take steam inhalations every day; using a bowl or cup filled with hot water. Place a towel over your head to contain the steam. Breathe in through your mouth for 5 to 10 minutes or until the steam stops.

Some medications can adversely affect the voice; they can cause hoarseness, dry vocal tract, and reflux.

  • The next time you see your doctor, discuss the medications you are taking and the possible side effects; There may be other medications that have less impact on your voice that can be prescribed.

Voice care when you experience a cold or sore throat

  • Don't use your voice more than necessary, but don't whisper or speak in a low voice. A soft, calm voice is best for your throat. 
  • Cancel any nonessential commitments.
  • Drink plenty of warm fluids without caffeine.
  • Try natural throat lozenges that are lubricating and do not numb the throat. 
  • Avoid eucalyptus or menthol-based throat lozenges as they numb and dry the throat. Sensations such as itching or a sore throat are there for a reason: they tell us to take care of and rest our voice. 

Reflux is a common cause of voice problems

  • Gastric reflux refers to when acid from the stomach moves up the esophagus into the throat or larynx. This causes inflammation and sometimes scarring. This is called "silent reflux" because it is not accompanied by indigestion or heartburn, so many people do not know they have it. Reflux can sometimes cause a sore throat, hoarseness, clearing of the throat, excess mucus, difficulty swallowing, a bad taste in your mouth, a dry mouth, or a lump in your throat. 
  • Keep a food diary or consult your doctor or nutritionist to make modifications to your diet or to understand if any food allergies can cause symptoms of gastric reflux. 
  • Common foods that cause reflux are (but are not limited to): 
  • Carbonated drinks
  • Chocolate
  • Caffeine
  • Mint / menthol                    
  • Onions
  • Spicy foods / hot sauces
  • Citrus fruits / juice
  • Stop smoking.
  • Elevate the head of your bed 4 to 6 inches by placing blocks under the bed frame. 
  • Lose any excess weight.
  • Avoid tight or restrictive clothing.
  • Workout.
  • Avoid eating an hour or two before bedtime.
  • Avoid overeating.
  • Improve stress management.
  • Drink plenty of water between meals, but avoid drinking while eating, as this can slow digestion.
  • Chew your food well (30 times per bite) to improve digestion. 

Frequent clearing or coughing can irritate and damage the larynx

  • Avoid constantly coughing or clearing your throat. Throat clearing causes the vocal cords to constantly scratch, leaving them dry and rough. In response to this, more mucus or discharge is produced which leads to the need to clear the throat further. It is important to avoid coughing or clearing your throat.
  • If you feel the need to cough or clear your throat.
    • Stop.
    • Drink water or swallow saliva.
    • Wait for irritation to pass while drinking water
    • If you still need to remove the irritation, use an air cough to clear the mucus from the vocal cords. 
    • Only if absolutely necessary, give a single, short, gentle cough.
    • Use natural (sugar-free) throat lozenges.

Living a healthy lifestyle is important for vocal health

  • Be aware of the impact stress can have on your body. When we are stressed, the cells of the body are in a state of "fight or flight", which weakens the immune system, accelerates the heart and respiratory rate, creates tension in the muscles and inflames surrounding tissues. Take time to de-stress, relax, and practice self-care.
  • Make sure you get enough sleep.
  • Eat a balanced diet and exercise regularly.
  • Whenever possible, avoid airborne smoke, pollutants, dust, and other irritants. If you work in an environment where you are exposed to irritants, wear a mouth guard.  
  • Maintain an upright, comfortable posture to reduce tension in the throat and improve respiratory function.  

Be aware of how you use your voice

 The vocal cords are delicate and can be easily damaged:

  • Whenever possible, avoid speaking over background noise (eg music, machines, etc.) or from a long distance.  
  • Get closer to the person you are talking to so you can see their face and hear them more easily
  • Minimize yelling, whispering, or speaking quietly.
  • When you can, schedule regular voice breaks throughout the day. 
  • Think of other ways to get someone's attention (for example, clap your hands, use an instrument in a classroom).
  • If you are often asked to speak to large groups, consider using a microphone or amplifier.

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