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Vocal Hygiene: “How To Get The Best Mileage From Your Voice”

By:-Dr. Jasveer Singh14 Aug, 2017


Tips for healthy voice by Experienced ENT Specialist in Delhi NCR

Vocal hygiene is a medical term used to describe certain habits to support a healthy voice throughout your life. It can help you preserve a resonant voice even in your 60s, 70s and beyond. Generally, good voice habits are used by speech therapists to help rehabilitate a damaged voice.

How you may spoil your voice?

Factors affecting the upper airway mucosa

  • Air pollution
  • Allergy
  • Sinusitis
  • Cancer

Inherent habits responsible for mucosal injury

  • Excessive talking
  • Screaming
  • Emotional outbursts

Adopted unhealthy habits

  • Smoking
  • Faulty food
  • Repeated throat clearing
  • Coughing, screaming, yelling (hard glottal attack)

Forced habits

  • Extended loud talking 
  • Extensive singing at high pitch
  • Extensive talking in glottal fry (for hearing what glottal fry sounds like)

Tips to keep your voice healthy

1)  Hydration is the key: Drink plenty of fluids and ensure that they are healthy. Sugared drinks should not be considered as healthy because they create thickened secretions (make you feel phlegmy) and may cause repeated throat-clearing.

2)  Breathing exercises: Whenever you start a speech, make sure you have enough air to support everything you speak. Take regular pauses in between. Here, nose breathing is the best thing to follow instead of breathing through your mouth.

One exercise is mentioned below

  • Lay flat on your back. Place your hands on your waist, fingers pointing towards your belly button.
  • Focus on filling up your stomach from the bottom to the top taking a slow deep breath (the aim is not to fill yourself to bursting but to inhale enough air so that you can feel the difference between shallow breaths taken when breathing from the chest). Focus on filling up your stomach from the bottom to the top taking a slow deep breath. Feel your stomach rising and your hands being raised gently up and outward until you feel your chest expanding. The expansion is not only at the front of the body but also to the sides and back as well.
  • Breathe out slowly to a count of 5
  • Repeat the exercise 10 times
  • Practice daily before you rise in the morning and prior to sleeping at night for 5 - 10 minutes, gradually increasing this exercise to 3 or 4 times a day

3)  Physical exercises: Any aerobic exercise such as walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, or playing tennis is good for your speech also as it helps develop heart and lung strength and endurance. Coordination exercises such as Yoga and Tai Chi are also good as they help develop body awareness and aid in relaxation.

4)  Healthy voice production: Try and use an easy approach while you speak or talk. Use a pitch that is optimal for you instead of a shrill or loud one. Also, avoid excessive talking. Whispering also has a drying effect on the mucosa of the vocal folds. While talking over the phone for extended periods, use a headset with microphone.

5)  Physical and mental rest: A single good night's sleep can rejuvenate your body, mind and soul. For a good voice, make sure you're following a proper sleep routine with a relaxed mind. Recent studies suggest that sipping chamomile tea before going to bed may help get a sound sleep.

6)  Pollution is your enemy: Avoid exposure to air pollution and dry pollution. Try and avoid smoke filled and dusty environments as much as you can.

7)  Say no to alcoholic beverages: Avoid excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages as alcohol contributes to the drying of mucosal linings of tissues. Also, it stimulates the stomach to produce more acid than usual, which can lead to acid reflux.

8)  Smoking kills: Smoking will be a 'suicide' for you if you want a healthy voice. Nicotine or any kind of smoke is a health hazard as it is an irritant which produces thick and tenacious mucus and may lead to an uncontrolled, raspy voice.

9)  Say no to drugs and sedatives

10)  If you experience any vocal disturbance, consult a physician immediately.

Voice is your identity and keeping it healthy and fit is your responsibility. Regular check-ups can help you get rid of vocal issues.