TAKING CARE OF YOUR VOICE
Whether you are a vocal artist or educator, lawyer or salesman, actor or speaker, there are a pool of vocations that rely heavily on the voice for one’s livelihood. Just like our intricate bodies that require sleep, the right diet and proper maintenance, our voices require the same level of attention. Here are 5 musts for a healthy voice.
- Stay hydrated:
Hydration allows the vocal folds to stay limber, and helps us maintain the protective lining that coats the vocal folds and protects it from natural friction, environmental elements or alcohol.
- Drink at least 6-8 glasses of water per day.
- Limit your intake of drinks that contain alcohol or caffeine, which can cause the body to lose water and make the vocal folds and larynx dry. Alcohol also irritates the mucous membranes that line the throat.
- Use a humidifier in your home. This is especially important in winter or in dry climates. Thirty percent humidity is recommended.
- Avoid or limit use of medications that dry out the vocal folds, including some common cold and allergy medications.
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle and diet:
- Don't smoke and avoid second-hand smoke. Smoke irritates the vocal folds. Also, cancer of the vocal folds is seen most often in individuals who smoke.
- Avoid eating spicy foods. Spicy foods can cause stomach acid to move into the throat or esophagus, causing heartburn or GERD.
- Include plenty of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables in your diet. These foods contain vitamins A, E, and C. They also help keep the mucus membranes that line the throat healthy.
- Wash your hands often to prevent getting a cold or the flu.
- Get enough rest. Physical fatigue has a negative effect on voice.
- Exercise regularly. Exercise increases stamina and muscle tone. This helps provide good posture and breathing, which are necessary for proper speaking.
- Avoid mouthwash or gargles that contain alcohol or irritating chemicals. If you still wish to use a mouthwash that contains alcohol, limit your use to oral rinsing. If gargling is necessary, use a salt water solution.
- Avoid using mouthwash to treat persistent bad breath. Halitosis (bad breath) may be the result of a problem that mouthwash can't cure, such as low grade infections in the nose, sinuses, tonsils, gums, or lungs, as well as from gastric acid reflux from the stomach.
- Use your voice wisely:
- Try not to overuse your voice. Avoid speaking or singing when your voice is hoarse or tired.
- Avoid using the extremes of your vocal range, such as screaming or whispering. Talking too loudly and too softly can both stress your voice.
- Practice good breathing techniques when singing or talking. Support your voice with deep breaths from the chest, and don't rely on your throat alone. Singers and speakers are often taught exercises that improve this kind of breath control. Talking from the throat, without supporting breath, puts a great strain on the voice.
- Avoid cradling the phone when talking. Cradling the phone between the head and shoulder for extended periods of time can cause muscle tension in the neck.
- Consider using a microphone when appropriate. In relatively static environments such as exhibit areas, classrooms, or exercise rooms, a lightweight microphone and an amplifier-speaker system can be of great help.
- Avoid talking in noisy places. Trying to talk above noise causes strain on the voice.
- Consider voice therapy. A speech-language pathologist who is experienced in treating voice problems can teach you how to use your voice in a healthy way.
- Smart choices when you’re sick:
Colds and allergies are the prime mucus creators and the #1 culprit disturbing an artist’s voice. Most over-the-counter remedies contain alcohol, chemicals or antihistamines – these harsh ingredients cause the larynx, vocal folds and vocal cords to be overly dry, and irritate the mucus membranes that line the throat. As a result, a compromised vocal range, pitch and quality.
- Rest your voice when you are sick. Illness puts extra stress on your voice.
- Avoid or limit use of medications that dry out the vocal folds, including some common cold and allergy medications. Consider Gargle Away Throat Care, an all-natural throat care rinse that gently rinses away bacterial sore throat, soothes laryngitis, GERD, oral thrush, LPR, and dry throat.
- If you have persistent heartburn or GERD, talk to your doctor about diet changes or medications that can help reduce flare-ups.
Just like an athletes muscles that requires hydration, a good diet and stretching exercises, a quality voice takes the same level of conscious wise choices. Remember, hydrate, healthy lifestyles, easy on the voice and choose natural powerful but gentle remedies like Gargle Away Throat Care to soothe your throat/congestion when sick.
Vocal care insights taken from U.S. Department of Health & Human Services papers.
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