If you are a professional singer or speaker, you probably already know the importance of keeping good throat health. But as for the rest of us, we might not pay much attention to our throats until we notice something wrong: soreness, irritation, and drainage. Your throat is made up of tissues, nerves, glands, and blood vessels. When we overuse or misuse our voices, we can cause damage that can lead to infection, and when our throats are unhealthy, our voices, our means of presenting ourselves to the world, are unhealthy.
Here are some tips to help you maintain good throat health all year long:
- Stay hydrated
Staying hydrated keeps your entire body healthy, and is an important step in avoiding illness, especially in the dry months of winter. Drink lots of water (6-8 glasses per day,) avoid alcohol and caffeine, and use a humidifier in your home. Dehydration, which can be spurred by alcohol or caffeine consumption, can make the larynx and vocal cords dry, causing irritation, and that irritation can make you vulnerable to viruses and bacterial infections.
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle
Taking care of your body = taking care of your throat. Don’t smoke. If you do smoke, quit. Smoking irritates your vocal cords and can cause throat and lung cancer. Exercise regularly and keep a healthy diet full of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, which contain vitamins that keep the mucus membranes that line your throat healthy. Wash your hands often, not just during flu season, to avoid spreading or coming into contact with germs and bacteria that may cause infection or illness, and don’t forget to get plenty of sleep—lack of sleep can cause vocal strain.
- Practice safe speaking
Allow yourself breaks from speaking every day, especially if you are someone who uses your voice for work, for example, as an instructor or presenter. Avoid yelling and screaming, or talking in noisy areas, and practice good breathing techniques by supporting your voice from your chest—not through your throat.
- Add preventative techniques to your daily routine
On top of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, add a couple throat-saving steps to your day. Here are a few examples:
- Wear a scarf in cold temperatures—body heat is primarily lost through the surface of the head and neck.
- Avoid clearing your throat, as it can injure your vocal cords and make you hoarse.
- Incorporate soothing honey into your diet.
- Try some vocal warm ups, especially before public speaking.
- Gargle with Gargle Away® Advanced Throat Care by Nature’s Jeannie™. The all natural, gluten free formula doesn’t come with any unpleasant side effects and acts fast to soothe dry, itchy, scratchy, irritated throats. Just mix the contents of one packet of Gargle Away into ½ cup of hot water, wait for it to cool down to a warm safe temperature, and then gargle and spit and repeat. This will reduce any inflammation you may have, loosen mucus, and coat your throat. Available at com, Wegmans Food Markets, Discount Drug Mart, Stop & Shop Supermarkets, Giant Carlise, Giant Landover and other select retailers.
Getting enough sleep is important enough when you’re perfectly healthy. When you do come down with something, the best thing you can do for your body and your throat is rest. Sleep will allow your body to repair itself, but it is also important to rest your voice. Avoid speaking as much as possible when you’re feeling hoarse or have a sore throat to ensure a quick recovery!
Remember: throat health is always important—not just when you’re sick! Neglecting your throat will catch up to you if you don’t take steps to keep it in good shape. Following these tips will ensure great throat health all year around.