Friday, March 25, 2022
Our voice is a very valuable resource and most of us rely on it for daily activities. Because of that, sometimes we can oversee the importance of good maintenance of the voice and we can end up taking it for granted. Every year, on the 16th of April, it is celebrated World Voice Day, a global movement that aims to demonstrate that voice matters.
The strategy behind World Voice Day is to organise a global celebration in terms of an impressive multitude of voice and vocal events, in as many countries as possible, from New Zealand to America and Hawaii. Because we understand that a functioning voice is highly significant to the quality of life, we have gathered the following 5 simple tips, to help you maintain good vocal hygiene:
1. Find the right tone
It is recommended that we talk at a low to moderate volume. Whispering, shouting or screaming can traumatise our voice, by adding extra strain to the vocal cords. This means that sometimes you may have to find different strategies to help you communicate, in situations where there is too much background noise or in a silent environment.
If you must talk in noisy conditions, our advice is to get as close to the person you are talking to as possible, preferably facing them; if you have to catch the attention of more individuals, you can always use amplification tools to make yourself heard or even clap your hands. Conversely, if you find yourself in a situation where you have to convey a message silently, try to use a confidential tone, similar to the voice you would use for a sleeping baby.
2. Make sure you drink enough water
You may be tired of hearing this all day, but it is not an overstatement to say that water is vital for good vocal hygiene. A proper level of water intake helps maintain the lubricating mucus on your vocal cords thin, creating the perfect conditions for them to work.
The Institute of Medicine concluded that the appropriate daily amount of water for women is 2.2 litres and approximately 3 litres for men. Try to include this quantity of liquids in your daily routine, but leave out coffee, tea, alcohol or fizzy drinks. Most of these drinks contain caffeine, which may lead to dehydration and drying out your vocal cords.
3. Abstain from clearing your throat
Even if it doesn’t feel like a bad habit, the constant clearing of your throat is extremely traumatic to the vocal cords. Excessive throat clearing leads to great wear and tear and puts additional strain on the vocal cords, as they are ‘bashed’ together during this action. Even more, this habit can produce excessive mucous and the result will only be a further need to clear your throat.
When you do feel the need to clear your throat, try to swallow in a slow rhythm, have a sip of water or silently clear your throat without letting your cords touch - your doctor should be able to show you how to do that. You may have to repeat the steps until that feeling of wanting to clear your throat has disappeared.
4. Relax and rest
Starting your day with a nice, hot shower can be beneficial to your vocal cords as well. Have a steamy shower before heading to work and try to spend a couple of minutes inhaling the steam. This will improve your vocal hygiene by introducing moisture into the vocal tract, keeping the vocal folds hydrated.
At the same time, lack of sleep can damage different aspects of your wellbeing and the health of the voice is no exception. Fatigue can put extra strain on your vocal cords, causing the voice to sound hoarse. Apart from sleeping enough hours during the night to allow your system to take a break, try to also find some time during the day to rest your voice. This can happen during lunch, between meetings or on your way home.
5. Quit smoking today
It cannot be overemphasised how dangerous smoking is for your general health and especially for your vocal hygiene. The toxic effect of smoking irritates and damages the vocal folds. Moreover, cigarette smoke irritation can lead to chronic laryngitis, vocal cord polyps or even cancer of the larynx.