Your voice is generally something you take for granted. In fact, it’s only when you lose your voice that you realize just how powerful and important it is to you. Your vocal folds are roughly the size of a postage stamp, but just like other parts of your body their health can be affected by the actions you take.
Here's 10 tips that will help to protect your voice:
- Listen to the sound of your voice. If it sounds hoarse, then you could have an infection like laryngitis or something more serious. If the hoarseness lasts for several weeks, especially if you are a smoker or don’t have any cold-like symptoms, then you should seek advice from a voice specialist.
- Give up smoking. Tobacco, nicotine, chemicals and inhaled heat can lead to inflammation and swelling and cause cancer in the mouth, nose, throat and lungs.
- Moderate your caffeine and alcohol consumption. Both can cause dehydration, which in turn strains the vocal folds. For every cup of coffee or alcoholic beverage you consume, have one glass of water.
- Keep the volume down. Shouting, screaming, cheering loudly or talking over loud noise unnecessarily strains the vocal folds, and can cause hoarseness or vocal fold damage.
- Manage acid reflux. Stomach acids can be damaging to your throat. Frequent heartburn, bloating, burping or hoarseness, a bad tasting mouth in the morning, or a lump in the back of the throat can all be indications of acid reflux. Seek specialist advice to treat acid reflux.
- Give your voice a rest. If you’re suffering from laryngitis, cold or flu and experiencing hoarseness, avoid singing, speaking loudly or for too long and anything else that may strain your voice. This will help to prevent damage to your inflamed voice folds.
- Avoid frequent throat clearing or harsh coughing. Drink some water or take a cough drop instead.
- Have quiet time. If you’ve been talking loudly or for a long period, give your voice a rest.
- Drink water. Water helps lubricate the vocal cords; aim for six 200ml glasses of water a day.
- Warm up your voice. If you’re teaching, giving a speech or singing, do neck and shoulder exercises, lip trills and tongue trills, hum and glide from low to high tones on different vocal sounds to prepare your voice.