Losing your voice — even for just a few hours — can be extremely debilitating and frustrating. It’s one of those things you take for granted until it’s gone. But when it goes, you suddenly realize just how useless you are.
Unfortunately, the only people who ever do anything to prevent issues and protect their voices are entertainers, singers, and professional speakers. This leaves the rest of the population susceptible to problems.
Don’t follow the masses. Instead, make sure you’re doing everything possible to protect your voice. Here are a handful of tips you should find helpful.
1. Warm up your vocal chords before presentations.
Any time you’re set to give a presentation — or otherwise speak loudly for an extended period of time — it’s smart to warm up your vocal chords. There are a variety of methods for warming up, but most involve breath relaxation, jaw and lip tension release techniques, tongue drills, octave scales, humming, and cool down exercises.
You may feel strange warming up your voice, but remember that your throat is just like any other part of your body. There are muscles that must be stretched and prepared prior to extreme exertion.
2. Avoid unnecessary and sudden volume changes.
Few things are as detrimental to your voice as sudden changes in volume. When you shout or scream with too much force, the lining of your vocal cords can actually become compromised. The muscles in your throat also tighten and breathing becomes lighter. This means your body has to put forth more effort to recover your voice. Ultimately, this can make it worse.
This is why coaches who frequently yell and scream often lose their voices or deal with issues later in life. “Usually, it’s just a temporary thing that goes away,” says Dr. Michael Pitman of the Mount Sinai Health System. “But sometimes, as the vocal cords try to repair themselves — and you strain and push your voice even harder — that’s where you get into a vicious cycle of vocal decompensation. The more you try and compensate, the more damage you do.”
3. Have a regular voice check up.
Most people get an annual physical — or at least go in for a checkup when something about their health seems wrong. You should treat your voice with the same amount of respect and care.
“Your annual physical probably will not reveal vocal cord problems,” says Dr. Inna Husain, director of the Voice, Airway and Swallowing Program at Rush University Medical Center. “The best way to really assess what’s going on with the voice is for someone attuned to the nuances of vocal changes to listen to your voice — and then look at your vocal cords.”
4. Don’t clear your throat excessively.
Did you know that you can actually damage your throat by clearing it with too much force? Aggressively coughing and clearing your throat over and over again can actually result in vocal chord damage. Instead of using force to clear your throat, try having a few sips of water.
5. Deal with acid reflux promptly.
Acid reflux is something that thousands of people suffer from. For some, acid reflux comes and goes with specific trigger foods. For others, it’s almost a chronic situation. Regardless of frequency, acid reflux must be dealt with in an appropriate manner. Understand how to take hold of your condition and prevent excess stomach acid from damaging your voice.
Don’t take your voice for granted!
Your voice is one of the single most important assets you have. Since communication is one of the key aspects of our daily lives, you can’t afford to lose your voice — temporarily or permanently.
Stop taking your voice for granted and start protecting it!
Featured photo credit: peter castleton via flic.kr