The National Center for Voice and Speech (NCVS) has
list to help keep your voice and healthy and
keep you talking.
Try to avoid substances that can dry out your voice, such as cough drops with menthol, caffeine, and alcohol. Certain medications can be drying as well, so ask your physician about potential drying effects if you use your voice extensively. For a list of the 200 most frequently prescribed medications in the U.S. and their effects on voice and speech, visit www.ncvs.org/ncvs/info/vocol/rx.html.
- Stay hydrated. Drinking about 8 large glasses of water spread out over the day will help your vocal cords tomorrow. Alcohol, caffeine, and carbonated beverages work against you; these may soothe your throat but are detrimental to your voice.
- Try not to shout, scream, or speak over loud background noises for a prolonged period of time — this can seriously damage your voice.
- Repeated clearing of your throat or coughing can cause trauma to the vocal fold tissue. Instead, trying using “a silent cough” to clear mucous — you do this by making the sound “huh” with a burst of air but no voice.
- Build in little vocal breaks throughout the day to help with vocal recovery and to prevent vocal fatigue (even eating lunch alone instead of with your colleagues can provide a beneficial rest to your voice on days you use your voice the most).
- Stress can make your voice tense and tight. There are voice disorders which are related to muscle tension. Make time to relax each day.
- Don’t smoke anything. Smoking actually breaks down the cellular repair process built in the vocal mechanism, resulting in increased vocal fatigue, susceptibility to vocal trauma, and increased risk of laryngeal cancer.
- Get enough sleep. Sleep is your body’s prime time for repair. Not only does your voice need the rest and repair, but so does the rest of you.
Remember, hoarseness or breathiness that lasts for more than two weeks may signal a voice disorder, and you should consult with a voice pathologist.
Voice Pathologists in the D.C. Area
Ear, Nose and Throat Specialists (Chevy Chase)
Dr. Jack Williams, 301-652-8847
Dr. Christopher Mesick, 301-652-8847
Voice and Communication Consultant
Susan Miller, Ph.D., 202-444-8186
Reprinted from the NCVS handout, "Vocal Tips to Live By." Visit their website at www.ncvs.org.