Vocal hygiene behaviours are things we can do to ensure we take care of our voice and vocal folds.
Here are some tips for good vocal hygiene:
- Drink enough water
Making sure you stay fully hydrated is important to keep your vocal cords functioning properly. Carry a drink bottle with you, and try to have small sips of water throughout the day. This is a better way for you to stay hydrated than to drink a lot of water all at once.
-5-8 year olds should have about 1 litre or 5 glasses of water each day
-9-12 year olds should be drinking 1.5 litres or 7 glasses a day
-Adults and teenagers should have 2 litres or 8-10 glasses of water each day
- Avoid straining your voice
If you’re speaking for extended periods of time, you may be straining your voice. This is also very common in people who spend a lot of their day speaking to large groups of people, such as teachers. If possible, try using a voice amplifier or microphone when speaking to a crowd rather than raising your voice.
3. Don’t ‘push through’ an illness
If you have a cough or sore throat, rest your voice! Placing unnecessary strain on your vocal cords will prolong your discomfort and take longer to get better.
4. Save menthol lollies for when you’re sick
Did you know that having medicated or menthol-lollies (such as Butter-Menthols) when you aren’t sick can dehydrate your throat? It’s best to only consume these if they’ve been recommended by your doctor or Speech Pathologist.
5. Avoid substances that cause dehydration
It sounds obvious to avoid inhaling smoke or fumes in order to protect your voice, but did you know that other substances like caffeine can be damaging as well? Coffee causes dehydration, and so unless you’re replenishing your body with plenty of water, it’s best to avoid drinking too much coffee!
6. Relax those muscles!
Are you tensing muscles in your neck or shoulders? Tightening these muscles can restrict your voice. Have a regular stretch of your head and shoulders to ensure you’re not tensing these muscles all day!
You might need to see a Speech Pathologist if:
– Your voice cuts out throughout the day or gets tired after prolonged talking
– Your voice sounds tired, hoarse or rough
– You can’t get through a sentence without running out of air
– You are unable to change the pitch of your voice (having trouble speaking in a higher or lower voice than normal)
– You need to clear your throat often
– You have a cough that persists for over 8 weeks. (See our blog post ‘What is a Chronic Cough?’ for more information)
If you’re concerned about your voice or have questions on vocal hygiene, please get in touch! You can give us a call on (+61) 4948 9800 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for reading!
(Certified Practising Speech Pathologist)