Otolaryngologists around the world, including the physicians at the Stanford Voice and Swallowing Center, are observing World Voice Day on April 16 to raise awareness of the irrevocable damage alcohol and tobacco abuse, as well as harmful speaking techniques, can have on the voice. The long-term consequences of poor voice practices can range from strained vocal cords and chronic hoarseness to deadly head and neck cancers.
Here are a few tips from the Voice and Swallowing Center to help you take care of your voice:
- Keep yourself hydrated: Moisture is good for your voice, and drinking plenty of water throughout the day is the best way to stay hydrated.
- Don't drink or smoke: Likely the single worst thing you can do for your voice is to smoke. It causes permanent damage to the vocal cord tissues and is the No. 1 risk factor for cancer of the larynx (voice box).
- Don't scream or shout: Use a microphone if you need to project your voice; yelling or screaming is always bad for the voice, as it puts a lot of stress on the delicate lining of your vocal cords.
- Rest your voice if you have laryngitis.
5. Get evaluated by an otolaryngologist (ear, nose and throat physician) if you have persistent hoarseness: If your voice is persistently hoarse, be sure to seek evaluation by an otolaryngologist.
- Warm up your voice: Warming up the voice is not just for singers; it helps the speaking voice, too. Doing simple things like lip or tongue trills, or gliding up and down your range on different vowels, will help warm up your voice.