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What is Vocal Hygiene?

Do you have good vocal hygiene? Its probably not something that many people think about except for singers, performers, and speech-language pathologists. But just like a singer relies on her voice, you rely on yours every day. Whether you’re talking to family, your coworkers, or when you’re calling up the pizzeria to get a pizza on Friday night, you need your voice just as much as anyone else. Everyone should care about vocal hygiene. Here some ways you can make sure to keep your voice clean and healthy.

Hydration

Water. Water. Water. Water is the key to vocal hygiene. If your vocal cords are dry and your mucous is thick, you’re going to be straining all day. Keep your vocal cords moist by keeping your body hydrated. How much is enough water? The US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and medicine say women should have 2.7 liters and men should 3.7 liters. Of course, if you are exercising or live in a dry place, like Las Vegas, you have to increase those numbers. A good goal is to take your body weight and divide that number in half and then drink that amount of water per day.

Warming up

There are plenty of exercises to warm your voice up. Humming is a great way to start. Labial trills are another warmup to try. Think about the “raspberries” you give a baby. Now, just turn your voice on and make buzzing sounds trilling your lips. There are so many warmup exercises you can learn on YouTube. If you are having voice difficulties, it would be great to see a Speech Pathologist so you can see how to improve your voice quality!

Sleep

Our vocal cords, just like every other muscle in our body. They need a break at night when we sleep. So, that means we need to get good sleep. Yes, of course we should try to get our 8 hours and such but there are other important factors during our sleep. The main factor having to do with what we eat before we sleep. Acid reflux during sleep is a problem that runs rampant in the United States but most people don’t even know its happening to them. It’s important to remember that gravity helps keep our food down in our stomach. When we lay down its possible for some low levels of acid to travel back up our food pipe (esophagus) to our throat (larynx/pharynx). Although acid is fine in the stomach, it can damage our vocal cords. We must remember to space eating and sleep by 3 hours, so that your stomach isn’t digesting food when we lay down at night. You may notice you wake up in the morning with mucous in your throat. This could be a sign that you are having some level of acid reflux.

Vocal Hygiene

It is important that everyone have good vocal hygiene, not just professional voice users. Poor vocal hygiene and voice misuse can lead to dysphonia, or hoarseness, in anyone. If you do feel like your having hoarseness, it would be a great idea for you to see a speech pathologist especially someone who specializes in voice. Ask your ENT for a referral to a speech pathologist and if you’re in Las Vegas, ask for a referral to Vegas Voice Institute.